Renowned Canadian animator Ryan Larkin, a one-time rising star in the National Film Board and more recently the subject of an Oscar-winning short, has died at the age of 63.


Ryan Larkin, shown in Toronto in December, spent time as a panhandler on the streets of Montreal. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

Laurie Gordon, Larkin's manager and friend, said Larkin died peacefully in his sleep Wednesday atGordon's home St. Hyacinthe, Que., following a long-term battle with cancer.

"Ryan was an inspiration to everyone who knew him and to generations of creative spirits in Canada and around the world," Gordon said. "He was charismatic even in the face of his illness."

Larkin was just 19 when he began working at the NFB in 1963, and six years later received an Academy Award nomination for his animated short Walking.

Larkin also made Street Musique, considered a masterpiece of animated movement, and won dozens of awards during his 14 years with the film board.

Subject of Oscar-winning short

Later, though, he succumbed to a combination of creative block and alcohol and cocaine problems and eventually took to the streets of Montreal as a panhandler.

Larkin was propelled back into the spotlight as the subject of Ryan, a digitally animated tribute by Canadian Chris Landreth that captured the Academy Award for best animated short in 2005.

He recently resurfaced after a three-decade absence to work for MTV Canada, making three short animatedbumpers — the branded station identifications that run into or out of commercials on the cable channel.

"It's a poetic statement that I was trying to develop [with the bumpers]— and I think I've succeeded, too,"Larkin said in an interview last December.

He was also working on Spare Change, a film about his experiences on the streets of Montreal.

With files from the Canadian Press