I first met Bill 20 years ago, when we sat together on a flight from Toronto to Los Angeles. I laughed the entire trip at his delicious, devilish sense of humor and it was love at first sight. From that day forward, we became best buddies.
I was so impressed with his incredible knowledge and his exquisite voice presenting that knowledge that I was thrilled when we became colleagues at Cal Arts. When I began to teach at USC, I missed Bill terribly so I invited him to team-teach the History of Animation class with me and share that incredible encyclopedic mind of his. Just as with CalArts, the students adored Bill. They drank up his words like sponges and the joy of learning was evident in all our faces. I say "our" because there was not a one of us, student, friend or faculty that didn't learn from Bill every time we were with him.
Bill was a historical icon and a talented artist in his own right. I could tell story after story of how he informed, entertained and tipped his hat at just the right moment. But I know that everyone here has their own special memories of this kind, gentle, and generous man.
No matter how ill, or difficult the times he was facing, he kept coming and teaching and sharing and asking "Are you sure you still want me?" I don't think he ever knew just how wonderful he was.
I feel so privileged to have known Bill. I could listen to him talk for hours about the films, filmmakers and artists that he loved and all the fascinating stories and histories he would so readily share. He was a gift to us in animation, a gift to our souls. He bore his pain silently.
His rich voice may be stilled, but not his words. They are forever in our memories; he is forever in our hearts.
Presented March 7, 2004 at Filmforum, Hollywood CA
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