By News-Register staff • 

McMinnville native Will Vinton dies

Submitted photo
Submitted photo

McMinnville native Will Vinton of Portland, an artist known for his innovative "Claymation" style of animation, died Thursday following a 12-year battle with myeloma. The McMinnville High School graduate was 70.

A celebration of his life will start at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at No Vacancy Lounge, 235 S.W. First Avenue, Portland.

The Academy Award winner's death was announced on Facebook by his children, Billy, Jesse and Alex Vinton.

During his fight with cancer, his children said, "he continued forward in his life with strength, positivity and humor, enjoying tropical get-aways, shepherding new creative ventures" and caring for his family.

They described him as a man of strength with a strong work ethic who "saw the world as an imaginative playground full of fantasy, joy and character."

Vinton, the son of Gale and Saima Vinton, grew up in McMinnville and attended McMinnville schools. He graduated from Mac High in 1966.

Vinton founded Will Vinton Studios, where he explored 3-D animation. He developed his trademark Claymation, which uses clay figures that are photographed, then moved or changed slightly before being photographed again; taken together, the changes became movement and expressions that captivate viewers' attention.

He became nationally famous with characters such as the California Raisins and talking M&Ms. He produced a Claymation feature film, "The Adventures of Mark Twain" and many other animated programs.

He won numerous film and television awards. He received an Oscar for the 1974 short film, "Closed Mondays." The eight-minute film took Vinton and his Claymation partner Bob Gardiner 14 months to complete.

He also received eight prime-time Emmys and four more Academy Award nominations. He also received several Clios for advertising.

"He continued to make jokes and laugh until the very end," his children said. "His work will live on in animation history and will continue to inspire creative thinkers and makers."



It was such a privilege growing up watching Mr. Vinton's work. Of all the things he did my favorite is the video for John Fogerty's Vanz Kant Danz. He must have been a joy to know.

Don Dix

Back in the day he was just a normal kid from the Memorial School neighborhood. We played ball at the school whenever enough bodies were available. It was never imagined he would become an award winning entrepreneur. And he wasn't known as 'Will Vinton', he was Billy (or Bill) to us. RIP Billy!

Jeb Bladine

Back in the day, Will Vinton (then Billy) and his highly respected family anchored the south end of Yamhill Street, next door to Dr. Weldon & Duck Ross. Our family occupied the north end, across the street from an open field that become Memorial School a few years after Will and I were born – 2 days apart. Those two days straddled the cutoff date, putting us in different classes throughout our McMinnville years, but that didn’t matter much in the 1950s when we were part of the gang of kids populating that 7-block stretch of Yamhill Street. Somewhere, I still have a photo of us holding 8-inch trouts with big grins – on us, not the trout!

He found his passion and turned it into a renowned innovation in entertainment. A good man from a good family in a good town, who found a great new life of his own. We’re all sorry he had to leave us too soon.

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