Animation writer-director and voice actor, Kelly Asbury whose credits include Shrek 2, Smurfs: The Lost Village and Beauty and the Beast, died today after battling cancer for several years. His rep Nancy Newhouse Porter of Newhouse Porter Hubbard confirmed the news to Deadline.
Asbury contributed to beloved animated features from Disney, DreamWorks — where he co-directed two Oscar-nominated films, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002). He most recently directed UglyDolls for STX Entertainment, and provided the voices of Gibberish Cat, Oliver, Chef and Buttons.
He got his start in animation at Disney Features in the early ’80s, creating storyboards, vizdev and character design for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Rescuers Down Under and Pixar’s first feature, Toy Story. He also worked on stop-motion classics Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (asst. art director) and Henry Selick’s James and the Giant Peach (artistic supervisor – story).
Asbury joined the newly-formed DreamWorks Animation (DWA) studio in 1995, working on The Prince of Egypt, Chicken Run and Shrek before moving to the co-director’s chair for Spirit and Shrek 2. While at DWA, he also worked on Shrek the Third, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar 2 as a voice over or story artist.
Outside animation, Asbury spent time in writing and illustrating. He penned Dummy Days, a biography of five 20th century ventriloquists, in 2003, as well as 12 children’s books, including Rusty’s Red Vacation, Bonnie’s Blue House and Yolanda’s Yellow School.