Sunday, June 05, 2011

Lee Ames 1921-2011

Veteran cartoonist, animator and creator of the popular DRAW 50 how-to-draw cartoon book series Lee Ames died in a Huntington, NY nursing home last week. He was 90 years old. The cause was congestive heart failure. More at (subscription-based).

ABE LINCOLN: FROM LOG CABIN TO WHITE HOUSE by Sterling North, with illustrations by Lee Ames. One of Mr. Ames' many books.

As my friend Adrian Sinnott, and Chair of the Berndt Toast Gang, notes:

"Our founding father, Lee Ames, who coined the term 'Berndt Toast' has passed away. Lee was an author, illustrator animator, and good friend. Always full of stories and with a supremely quick wit, Lee brought smiles wherever he went."

Here is the background on the Berndt Toast Gang, which I originally wrote and is now part of a Wikipedia entry:

"The Berndt Toast Gang, named in honor of Walter Berndt, is a group of Long Island cartoonists who meet on the last Thursday of each month. As explained by cartoonist Lee Ames:

"When the Long Island group, Creig Flessel, Bill Lignante, Frank Springer, Al Micale and I got together to work for Hanna Barbera in the 1960s, we decided to have a Finnegan's Bar lunch every last Thursday of the month. During that period, Creig brought Walter Berndt to join us. We fell in love with the cigar-smoking old-timer (look who's talking!), as he did with us. After a couple of years he passed away and left us grieving. Thereafter, whenever we convened on Thursdays, we'd raise a toast to Walter's memory. On one such, my big mouth opened and uttered, 'Fellas, it's time for the Berndt toast!' I wasn't trying to be cute at the time, but I'm not displeased that it stuck and we became the Berndt Toast Gang, one of the largest branches of the National Cartoonists Society."

MICKEY'S DRAWING CLASS was one of his popular "how to draw" books.

A few unseen photos:

Berndt Toast Gang luncheon: Lee Ames and Dan Danglo, 1991. Photo by Jerry Jurman.

Berndt Toast Gang luncheon: Joe Edwards, unidentified, Frank Springer, Lee Ames, Al Scaduto and Sy Barry, May 30, 1991. They are listening to chapter chair Creig Flessel upon the occasion of BTG member Steve Duquette winning the NCS Advertising Illustration award. Photo by Jerry Jurman.


Koala Bear said...

Thank you for keeping Lee J. Ames legacy alive. I have 2 of his original paintings. They are wonderful. It would be nice if I could post pictures of them to share here or email the webmaster jpegs. I am a collector and looking for original works.

Mike Lynch said...

Lee was a great fellow and one of the great talents in cartooning in the 20th century. I would welcome a chance to see the paintings you have. You can reach me at mike at mikelynchcartoons dot com.