From Billings to the Big Screen. Montana’s ‘Toy Story’ Connection
Montana is full of talented artists.
The Treasure State has been attracting artist types for well over a century. We're all familiar with big names like Charles M Russell and Kevin Red Star. From one of our earliest houses of worship (where the stunning murals were painted by the residence cook/handyman) to a resurgence of large-scale paintings on walls and bridges around Billings, you don't have to look far to see talent. Belgrade artist Chuck Black just won the prestigious Federal Duck Stamp annual competition. We wrote about his winning duck painting HERE.
An artist from Billings made it big at Pixar.
Perhaps you're not familiar with the name Bud Luckey, but I know you've heard of Toy Story, Sesame Street, and The Incredibles. IMDb writes this about Mr Luckey,
Bud Luckey was an American animator, writer, director and voice actor from Montana known for his works at Pixar and Sesame Street. He directed and voiced the short film Boundin' before voicing Rick Dicker in The Incredibles and Jack-Jack Attack. He later voiced Chuckles from Toy Story 3 and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.
William Everett Luckey was born in Billings in 1934 and graduated from Billings Senior High. He reportedly earned the nickname Bud, after an older sibling mispronounced the word "brother" as "budder" and the name Bud stuck.
Decades of illustrating.
After a stint in the Air Force during the Korean War, Luckey began a long career in animation. According to this piece from the Chicago Tribune, Bud also worked on the original Alvin and the Chipmunks and helped Charles M Shulz on an ad campaign for the Dolly Madison snack company. Pixar bigwigs noted that it was his idea to change Woody from a creepy ventriloquist dummy to a much more loveable cowboy. Interestingly, Luckey's son is named Andy.
Luckey was the fifth animator hired by Pixar when the company was formed in the late 80s, and he went on to work with most of the company's biggest projects, including Toy Story 1, 2 & 3, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Cars, and Ratatouille. His distinct voice can be heard as the character Chuckles (the sad clown in Toy Story 3), Eeyore in 2011's Winnie the Pooh, and agent Rick Dicker in The Incredibles. Bud Luckey passed away in 2018 in Connecticut at the age of 83.
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