William "Bud" Luckey (born 1934) is an American cartoonist, animator, singer, musician, and composer. He is best known for his work at Pixar as a character designer for Toy Story, Boundin', Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. He is also beloved by generations of Sesame Street viewers for his numerous short animated films on that program.
Luckey was born and raised in Billings, Montana. He served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. He later served as a graphics specialist with the NATO Allied Occupation Forces in Europe and North Africa from 1953 to 1954 and, finally, with the Strategic Air Command from 1954-'57. He remained an Air Force reservist through the mid 1960's.
After leaving active Air Force duty, he attended Chouinard Art Institute (which later became California Institute of the Arts) from 1957 to 1960. He was a Disney scholar, and received professional animation training at the University of Southern California with Disney veteran animator Art Babbitt. After graduation Luckey worked for a time as Babbitt's assistant/apprentice at Quartet Films in Los Angeles.
He served as an animator for The Alvin Show in 1961. He also worked as an animator and sequence director on a pilot for Mad magazine television special produced by long time friends Jimmy Murakami and Gordon Bellamy.
As an advertising agency artist from 1961 to 1969 at the Guild-Bascom-Bonfigli (Advertising)Agency (merged with Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample, now Saatchi & Saatchi, in 1967), Bud Luckey worked on TV commercials for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes (Tony the Tiger), Froot Loops (Toucan Sam), and Rice Krispies (Snap, Crackle and Pop) as well as Interstate Bakeries' Dolly Madison products featuring Charles M. Schulz' Peanuts characters. He created the "Bosco Dumbunnies" characters for the Best Foods 'Chocolate Flavor Milk Amplifier" product Bosco Chocolate Syrup -- the commercial spots were animated by renowned animators Fred Wolf and Jimmy Murakami. He won a Clio Award in 1966 for the General Mills commercial Betty Crocker -- "Magic Faucet."
Luckey also worked with animator Alex Anderson, who created the characters of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Bullwinkle, and Dudley Do-Right, as well as the more obscure Crusader Rabbit. Anderson was also on staff at the Guild-Bascom-Bonfigli Agency at that time.
The Guild-Bascom-Bonfigli Agency, despite its San Francisco location, was also well known for its work on political campaigns. The agency's Creative Director, Maxwell "Bud" Arnold, was considered a foremost expert in the budding field of television advertising for politics and Arnold's expertise brought many key political figures to the agency's roster. In that regard Luckey also did work on the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey who were clients of that agency during his tenure.
Luckey wrote and animated many short films for Sesame Street and the Children's Television Workshop during the 1970s, often doing the voice work himself as well. Among them are "The Ladybugs' Picnic," "Infinity" ("That's about the size of it"), the Donny-Bud Series (with co-writer Don Hadley) featuring numbers 1 to 6, "#8 Penny Candy Man", "#9 Martian Beauty", "#7 The Alligator King", "Ten Tiny Turtles on the Telephone," "Lovely Eleven Morning", "The Old Woman Who Lived in a Nine" and the award-winning "Longie and Shorty the Rattlesnakes" mini series.
Luckey founded his own animation studio, The Luckey-Zamora Picture Moving Company, in the early 70's and merged its operation with Colossal Pictures in the late '80s before joining PIXAR in 1992. Initially Luckey's studio was in his family's home, until it outgrew that small townhouse and Bud's own 6'x8' (mini)"house" in the back yard (in which he worked long hours). The company then took studio space in the Produce District of San Francisco. In the 1970s and 80's it was the largest animation studio in the San Francisco bay area.
His film credits include the 1974 animated feature The Extraordinary Adventures of the Mouse and His Child.
In the 2004 DVD release of Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles, in addition to Bud Luckey's Oscar-nominated short Boundin', the studio included a short biography of Luckey entitled "Who is Bud Luckey?" In that video biography, Pixar (and now Disney's) Creative Executive Vice President John Lasseter declared: "Bud Luckey is one of the true unsung heroes of animation."
Luckey joined Pixar in 1990 as a character designer, story board artist and animator for Toy Story. He was Pixar's fifth artist/animator. John Lasseter credits Bud Luckey with the creation and design of the star of Toy Story, Woody, a cowboy. Originally the character was a ventriloquist's dummy like Edgar Bergen's character Charlie McCarthy. He evolved into a talking doll with a pull string and a gun-less holster.
According to Toy Story Producer Ralph Guggenheim, John Lasseter and the story team for the first Toy Story film reviewed the names of PIXAR employees' children looking for the right name for the film's boy child character. "Andy", (Andy Davis) was ultimately named after and based on Bud Luckey's son, animator Andy Luckey. "Davis" came from the nearby college town, Davis, California, which is home to University of California, Davis, the alma mater of a number of PIXAR engineers.
Luckey's character designs can also be seen in A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and in Toy Story 3, in which he also voices a clown named Chuckles.
In 2003 Luckey gained attention for the short film Boundin', which was released theatrically as the opening cartoon for The Incredibles. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 2003. Luckey wrote and designed the short, and also composed the music and lyrics, and sang and performed banjo on the soundtrack for the cartoon. Boundin won the ASIFA Hollywood Annie Award that same year.
In The Incredibles, Bud Luckey voiced the role of National Supers Agency (NSA) Agent Rick Dicker. In the film's DVD commentary, director Brad Bird jokes that he had an idea to start Boundin' with Rick Dicker coming in to his office late at night, pulling out a bottle of "booze" and a banjo to start singing the song about the dancing sheep who is sheared and has his confidence restored by the Jackalope. He also lent his voice to Chuckles in Toy Story 3.
Luckey is widely rumored to have an original film concept in development for Disney·Pixar with former Sesame Street collaborator Don Hadley. The film is further rumored to be planned for co-direction by Luckey and Lasseter. The plot has not been released but is believed to have a western theme, similar to Luckey's short Boundin', with a projected release date of 2013.
Luckey has designed and illustrated more than 100 children's books containing his characters, recently including the Golden Book Mater and the Ghostlight featuring the Cars character Mater.