I finally have confirmation (via Jerry Beck of the Cartoon Research website
) through Hal's daughter, Lisa, that he has indeed passed away. Not wanting to pry or seem insensitive, I haven't yet asked for the actual date or cause of death.
To those of us who worship 80's cartoons, Hal Sutherland will forever be remembered for three things:
Having his name turn in to The Sorceress...
Making Space-Cowboy He-Man...
... And being the animating force behind all the re-run filler that ran on your local stations while the NEW cartoons played on the Big Three (ABC, NBC, CBS). Stuff like Star Trek, The Archies, The Batman/Superman/Aquaman cartoons that didn't seem to fit in with the versions you saw on the Super Friends, and those weird Popeye cartoons that weren't like the REALLY old ones they played along with vintage Tom & Jerry, Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckyl cartoons but weren't as mind-numbingly awful as the "All New Popeye Adventures" over on CBS.
As the story goes (and I may be misremembering this and/or mixing up multiple versions of the same story), Filmation became a company kind of by accident. Hal Sutherland and Lou Scheimer were both animators working for various production studios when one of those companies just had too much work and not enough budget. Hal and Lou said "Well heck let's make a little limited partnership that can take over some of these jobs for a few weeks". They finished up the work and were prepared to be unemployed again when Norm Prescott called and said "Hey you guys wanna take a crack at making a Superman cartoon?" and they said "Meh, sure, why not, got nuthin' better to do right now".