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Pixar mourns 'Toy Story' writer

Animation studio in shock after learning of death of Joe Ranft, a founding member of its creative team.

Pixar Animation Studios was in shock Wednesday after learning of the death of Joe Ranft, one of the founding members of its creative team. The 45-year-old Ranft, who earned an Oscar nomination as a writer on "Toy Story," died Tuesday afternoon in Mendocino County, Calif., when a car he was traveling in plunged off a cliff.

"People cannot say much but just gave each other embraces to quell the sadness..." Pixar storyboard artist Ronnie del Carmen wrote in his blog. "It is the saddest day at Pixar."

"We are all hit hard by this sudden news and we're all beyond sadness here at the studio," Enrico Casarosa, another storyboard artist, wrote in his online journal. "Joe's contribution to animation has been immense and far-reaching. He taught and mentored a whole generation of creators. I can't even begin to describe how dearly he will be missed."

Ranft, a veteran of the California Institute of the Arts and Disney, did storyboard and story-development work, and even provided voices for some characters. He played, for example, Wheezy the Penguin in "Toy Story 2." Other credits include "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "The Lion King," "Monsters Inc." and "Finding Nemo."

The animation community at large expressed its sorrow and shared remembrances at Cartoon Brew, which also featured links to more information about Ranft and his work.

The Hollywood Reporter posted an obituary on Ranft earlier Wednesday.