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Eli Noyes, Animator Who Turned Clay and Sand Into Art, Dies at 81

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Eliot Fette Noyes Jr. was born on Oct. 18, 1942, in Alexandria, Va., and grew up in New Canaan, Conn. His father was a prominent industrial designer and architect whose designs included the IBM Selectric typewriter and round gas pumps for Mobil. His mother, Mary (Weed) Noyes, known as Molly, was an architect and interior designer.

Mr. Noyes received a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Harvard in 1964. He then enrolled in the college’s graduate program in architecture, but left after a year. “I think he realized that following in the footsteps of his father was an overwhelming idea,” his wife said in an interview.

He moved to California briefly before relocating to New York City to begin his career in the film industry. While working on his animated movies, he also made educational programs for children and directed or several documentaries with Claudia Weill, including “This Is the Home of Mrs. Levant Graham” (1970), about a poor Black family in Washington.

“As Noyes and Miss Weill understand it, her warm, happy, sloppy, incredibly overpopulated apartment is a kind of crowded paradise for movie making,” Roger Greenspun wrote in the Times. “A lot happens in front of their camera, and they know how to let it happen, and so for them a world comes alive.”

In 1991, Mr. Noyes and his family moved to San Francisco, where he worked on animation projects at Pixar and Disney Channel and was later the creative director at the Oxygen Network. In 2003, he founded a production company, Alligator Planet, with Ralph Guggenheim, one of the producers of “Toy Story” (1995).

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