‘Yellow Submarine’ animator Robert Balser dies aged 88

1968 Beatles movie featured Blue Meanies and songs from the Fab Four's back catalogue

Robert Balser, one of the animators behind The Beatles animated movie Yellow Submarine, has died.

The animation director, who also worked on the Saturday morning Jackson 5 cartoons in the early 1970s, was 88.

He died on Monday (January 4) following complications from respiratory failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his wife, Cima told leading animation website AWN.com.

More than 200 artists were employed on the hand-drawn 1968 Beatles movie during a production that took 11 months to complete on a budget of less than $1 million (£690,000).

The film, set in the paradise of Pepperland, is full of morphing shapes and bizarre creatures known as Blue Meanies and featured several songs from The Beatles backcatalogue including ‘When I’m 64’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Hey Bulldog’, ‘Nowhere Man’, ‘All You Need Is Love’, ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ and ‘Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’.


“We didn’t say we’re going to do this because of this or that – it just happened,” Balser, one of the few Americans to work on the film, said in a 2012 interview with TribLive. “I see how it works with little kids, with teenagers, how it’s engraved in the memory of older people. I think it resonates today, but I don’t know why.”

Balser launched Pegbar Productions in Barcelona, Spain, and later worked on The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and episodes of The Charlie Brown And Snoopy Show in the 1980s.

He also partnered with graphic design legend Saul Bass on the seven-minute, end-of-film animated title sequence for Michael Anderson’s Around The World In 80 Days in 1956, and he worked on animated movie Heavy Metal (1981).

The Beatles recently allowed their back-catalogue to be streamed online over Christmas.