Faith Hubley, a film studies professor and three-time Academy Award winner, died on Dec. 7 in New Haven. She was 77 and lived in New York City.
A prolific artist, Hubley produced 50 animated films throughout her career, incorporating impressionistic, mythical and musical elements into her works.
Her first 21 films were made in conjunction with her late husband John, who died during heart surgery in 1977. The Hubleys made a pact at their wedding in 1955 to produce a film a year, and Ms. Hubley kept that promise until her death, finishing her latest film, “Northern Ice, Golden Sun,” last week.
Hubley won her first Oscar in 1959 for “Moonbird,” which included a soundtrack featuring the voices of her two sons, Mark and Ray. She won her second Oscar for “The Hole” in 1962 and her third for “Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature” in 1966.
Hubley brought her artistic expertise to Yale for nearly 25 years, teaching an undergraduate course on storyboard design every fall semester.
Storyboard design is the process of laying out the shots for each scene in an animated movie.
“She was a generous, warm, vivacious woman who was absolutely passionate about her work, and that was communicated to the students who took her classes,” said Patricia DeChiara, the director of academic affairs for the School of Art. “We were very fortunate that she was able to fit us into her schedule.”
After missing two classes because of illness, Hubley returned to the classroom last week in a wheelchair to grade her students and see their final projects.
“[Hubley] was sick, but she actually came back for the last class,” Thomas O’Donnell ’03 said. “It was amazing. Just the most courageous thing.”
Students in Hubley’s class said she allowed them room for creativity.
“She was just very open and always willing to let us do whatever art style we wanted,” Andrea Albin ’03 said. “She was just super-excited and really vivacious. She was crazy, but in the most wonderful way.”
Film studies professor Michael Roemer said Hubley was particularly excited about teaching undergraduates. Roemer added that he respected Hubley both as a colleague and as a person.
“I esteemed her very highly,” Roemer said. “[Hubley] was just very warm and generous. [Art] is a tough industry, and she wasn’t tough in that same way. She was very open.”
Hubley was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1973, and in 1974 she was told she had a mere six months to live.
“She had cancer before John died,” Roemer said. “I remember going down to visit them on the East Side, and Faith was feeling so bad that she didn’t even come out of the bedroom. I had the feeling that she was not expected to live long, but she was a very determined person.”
DeChiara said that without Hubley the School of Art probably will not offer the storyboard course anymore.
“Faith is irreplaceable as far as storyboard design goes,” DeChiara said.
Currently, the School of Art is trying to get in touch with Hubley’s family about a possible memorial service or exhibition at Yale, DeChiara said.
But in the meantime, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City will present an exhibition on Jan. 8 honoring Hubley’s life and her work.
Hubley is survived by four children — Mark, Ray, Emily and Georgia — and six grandchildren. Emily, also an animator, taught at Yale for one semester, and Georgia is a member of the rock band Yo La Tengo.