Jan. 15, 1960-June 26, 2020 Beaumont
Kelly Asbury was an American animation film director, screenwriter, voice actor, and author/illustrator. He is best known for directing animated films, including Shrek 2 (2004) and Gnomeo & Juliet (2011). He was an integral part of the Disney animation renaissance in the late 80's/early 90's and the development of the newly formed Dreamworks animation division in the mid 90's.
A native of Beaumont, Texas, Asbury attended Lamar University for two years before transferring to the California Institute of the Arts in 1980 in Valencia, where he studied animation and filmmaking.
From 1983 until 1995, Asbury worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation, contributing designs and storyboards for several popular animated films, including The Little Mermaid (1989) and Beauty and The Beast (1991).
He was an assistant art director on Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and provided storyboards for Toy Story (1995).
In August 1995, he began working for DreamWorks, starting as Head of Story on The Prince of Egypt (1998), then went on to direct two Academy Award-nominated feature films, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) and Shrek 2 (2004). After its release, Shrek 2 became, at that time, the highest grossing animated feature of all time.
In addition to directing, Asbury provided some of the extra character voices in Shrek 2 (2004) and Shrek The Third (2007). In 2007, Kelly relocated to London, England, where he directed and co-wrote Gnomeo & Juliet (2011), on which he also provided the voices of the tiny Red Goon Gnomes.
Asbury also penned the book, Dummy Days: America’s Favorite Ventriloquists From Radio and Early TV (2002).
He is also the author and illustrator of twelve published children's books, including 1997’s Rusty’s Red Vacation, Bonnie’s Blue House, and Yolanda’s Yellow School. From 2011 to 2012, Asbury contributed storyboards to Disney's Wreck-It Ralph (2012) and Frozen (2013).
Other animated films to which Kelly made contributions include James and The Giant Peach (1996), Chicken Run (2000), Madagascar: Escape 2, Africa (2008), Shrek (2011), Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017), and The Addams Family (2018).
The last film Asbury directed was Uglydolls (2019). He died at the age of 60 at his home in Encino, California. He was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Notable People Hall of Fame in 2002.