Profile: Frank Braxton (1929-1969)

Frank Cavalier Braxton Jr. was a pioneering African-American animator and director.

Braxton started his animation career at Warner Bros. Cartoons in the 1950s as an assistant to Ben Washam and was one of the first African-American animators with any Hollywood studio. He stayed at Warner Bros. for two years. With no prior animation experience Braxton was brought on as an “inbetweener” with one or two other new hires, but his talent propelled him to being an assistant animator to animator Ben Washam, in the Chuck Jones unit at Warner’s. Thus many of the Chuck Jones cartoons of the mid-1950s contain Braxton’s work. Later, he worked under animation director Bill Hurtz and briefly managed a cartoon studio in Barcelona, Spain.

Returning to the United States, Braxton was a director for The Bullwinkle Show, and Mr. Magoo. He also found work in 1967 for John Hubley on one of his films, Urbanissimo.

That same year he animated on the Charlie Brown TV specials You’re in Love, Charlie Brown and He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown, under fellow Warner-alumnus Bill Melendez. Also in 1967 he worked as a director for Jay Ward on Ward’s last TV series, George of the Jungle, and on his early Cap’n Crunch cereal commercials. He was also briefly president of the Los Angeles local of the Screen Cartoonists Guild.

Braxton died of cancer in 1969. He is interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles. His last animated project, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, was released in 1969.

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