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Peter Anthony (Tony) Eastman, 78

Peter Anthony (Tony) Eastman died Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. He was 78. He was born in Los Angeles, CA on Nov. 8, 1942. The son of Philip Dey (P.D.) Eastman and Mary Louise Whitham, both with careers in animation, he was destined to work in the animation business.

Peter Anthony (Tony) Eastman
Peter Anthony (Tony) Eastman Contributed photo

In 1954, his family moved East to Westport where, as a youth he created flip books and short animated films with a 16mm Bolex movie camera his father bought for him. He soon met his life-long friend, cartoonist Kim Deitch, with whom he created many animated films and a live action film—“Dial M for Monster”—which was filmed in Westport and NYC.

Tony graduated in 1960 from Staples High School, where he excelled in art. His art teacher, Vivian Testa took a special interest in him and encouraged him to apply to the Carnegie Institute of Technology. Shortly before Ms. Testa’s death, Tony was happy to be able to visit her and present her with copies of the children’s books he had written and illustrated.

In 1964 Tony earned a BFA from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh, where he met his future wife, Susan. While at C.I.T. he produced/directed/animated a short animated film for the school’s 1961 “Scotch and Soda” production, with a story based on Walt Disney’s work, titled “For the Love of Phoebe.”

He married Susan in 1964 and they moved to New York City, buying a loft in Soho in 1972. He worked as a designer of on-air graphics for the CBS network before striking out on his own in the early 1970s, teaching animation at Philadelphia College of Art, working at a variety of NYC animation studios before settling in at R.O. Blechman’s Ink Tank in 1981. There he animated work for PBS/CTW and many commercials, including a Grapefruit Council campaign which featured Jim Jinkins “Doug” before he was “Doug.” He also animated on R.O. Blechman’s “The Soldier’s Tale.”

In 1989 Random House hired him to direct six Richard Scarry “Best Ever” videos: “Best ABC Video Ever,” “Best Counting Video Ever,” etc., animated adaptations of Richard Scarry’s work.

By the early 1990s, he connected with J.J. Sedelmaier Productions. Tony had given J.J. his start in animation, hiring him as an assistant in the early ‘80s. At J.J.‘s studio Tony was head animator the first season of MTV’s “Beavis and Butt-Head,” and animated the memorable TV Funhouse segments on “Saturday Night Live” along with various TV commercials, including Old Navy, Northern Tissue, Ortho, and 7UP. He worked for MTV as storyboard artist on later seasons of “Beavis and Butt-Head” and as storyboard consultant on Daria. At Jumbo Pictures he acted as supervising director on “Doug” for Nickelodeon, at Curious Pictures for “Sheep in the Big City” (Mo Willems) and Cartoon Network’s “Codename: Kid’s Next Door.”

In 1998, Tony returned to Westport. Just as animation was shifting from paper and pencil drawing to computer generated, a new field opened up for him. Random House reissued his father, P.D. Eastman’s, book of opposites, “Big Dog … Little Dog”, in the Beginner Books format. Tony created new artwork based on his father’s original drawings for this book, which was released in 2003 as B-92, and led to Random House asking Tony to create new Beginner Books featuring Fred and Ted. In 2005 he released “Fred and Ted Go Camping” (B-94), credited under his birth name, Peter Eastman. He followed up with “Fred and Ted Like to Fly” (B-96, 2007) and “Fred and Ted’s Road Trip” (B-100, 2011).

Tony was a multi-talented, kind and generous person. He was an avid collector of many things—film, records, vintage TVs, and radios—in addition to vintage VWs. He had a full, wonderful life and is missed by his many friends. He is survived by his wife, Susan, of Westport, and their sons, Seth and Eric, of New York City.

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