Fans are mourning the loss of a major figure in animation. This figure, who worked on The Simpsons and Rick and Morty, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 54.
An Incredible Career in Animation
J. Michael Mendel got his start in the entertainment industry when he worked as a production assistant on the Tom Hanks’ hit Big in 1988. He and Matt Groening worked together on The Tracey Ullman Show, where The Simpsons was born.
When the beloved animated comedy earned itself a spin-off series in 1989, Mendel served as a producer for an incredible 207 episodes. During his career, Mendel won 4 Emmy Awards.
Although he is most closely linked with The Simpsons, Mendel continued to work in animation after leaving the show. He was a producer on The PJs, Drawn Together, and the Napoleon Dynamite cartoon, among others.
Most recently, he worked as a producer for Ricky and Morty, earning his 4th Emmy for the infamous “Pickle Rick” episode in 2018.
“All of us at Adult Swim are devastated by the untimely passing of Mike Mendel. Mike was the heart of the Rick and Morty production family, his fantastic talent and wit will be sorely missed,” read the official statement from Adult Swim.
“Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.”
Justin Roiland: ‘I Am Devastated’
Justin Roiland, the creator and main voice actor of Rick and Morty, penned a heartbreaking tribute on Twitter shortly after the news broke:
“My friend, partner, and line producer Mike Mendel passed away. I am devastated. My heart breaks for his family. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you by my side Mike. I’m destroyed.”
At the time of his death, Mendel was working with Roiland to produce a new show for Hulu called Solar Opposites.
His Wife Confirms the Tragic News
Mendel is survived by his wife, Brooklyn Nine-Nine casting director Juel Belstrop, and their children, Jacob and Jesse. Belstrop told The Hollywood Reporter that her husband passed away unexpectedly of natural causes at their home, just two days before what would have been his 55th birthday.
As tributes from colleagues pour in across social media, it’s clear that Mendel was a respected producer and a genuinely beloved figure in the animation industry.