R.I.P. Tuck Tucker, SpongeBob SquarePants and Hey Arnold! Animator Dead at 59

He also worked on The Little Mermaid, Rugrats, The Simpsons, and The Fairly OddParents

Tuck Tucker
Tuck Tucker, photo by Mike Kropf
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Tuck Tucker, the veteran animator known for his work on shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Hey Arnold!, has died at the age of 59. A cause of death hasn’t been revealed at this time.

According to Tucker’s family, he passed away on December 22nd. “It is with a heavy and broken heart that the Tucker family announces the death of Tuck Tucker, father, husband, son, brother, and uncle,” wrote Bailey Tucker on Facebook. “We know he was loved by all of those whom he met. In lieu of visitations, if you have memories of Tuck you would like to share on his timeline, the family would greatly appreciate reading them.”

Tucker had a knack for bringing drawn illustrations to life onscreen. When he was in his 20s, he started working on prominent animated films like 1987’s Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night and the 1989 Disney classic The Little Mermaid. From there, he landed roles on some of the biggest cartoons of the ’90s, including Rugrats and The Simpsons.

Tucker quickly found his calling at Nickelodeon. It was there that he worked as a storyboard director for Hey Arnold! between 1996 and 1999, and later went on to direct the spinoff 2002 movie. Two years later, he served as the storyboard artist for SpongeBob SquarePants The Movie. That stint eventually earned him the role of supervising storyboard director for 47 episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants between 2007 to 2014 and the opportunity to write six episodes for the series. In 2011, Tucker won an Annie Award for Best Music in a Television Production for his work on the show.

Over the years, Tucker lent his skills to other animated shows like Family Guy, Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, Drawn Together, and The Fairly OddParents. Come 2015, he decided to start teaching graphic and animation design at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia to share his knowledge and experience with a new generation of students.

Unfortunately, Tucker won’t get to see his last piece of work hit the big screen. He contributed to the upcoming Bob’s Burgers movie, which was originally scheduled to be released in 2020 but has since been delayed to April 9th, 2021.

Hey Arnold! creator Craig Bartlett took to Instagram to commemorate Tucker as a close pal and coworker, sharing memories, scenes, and sketches he penned. “A great friend, a master draftsman, a tireless practical joker, a brilliant storyteller, the first one I reached out to when I began Hey Arnold! because he was the best board guy I had ever met,” wrote Bartlett. “I’ll always remember him at his drawing board, arms blackened to the elbows with graphite, eraser shavings everywhere, bringing my characters to life. A killer work ethic, passionately into it. I’m so lucky I got to work with him for so many years. He gave and gave. I miss him already, my heart is broken. Rest in power, Tuck Tucker.”

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