Beloved Pixar Writer Dan Gerson Passes Away at 49

Daniel “Dan” Gerson, screenwriter and contributor to some of the best-loved Pixar films to grace movie theaters all over the world, passed away in his Los Angeles home last Saturday after battling brain cancer. He is survived by Beau Stacom – his wife of 20 years – and his two children.

Gerson began his career first as a staff writer for NBC’s Something So Right before signing up with Pixar in 1999, where he then went on to either write or contribute to some of the most memorable 3D animated films to date.

In 2001, Monsters, Inc. captured the hearts of kids and adults alike by introducing the lovable monster-duo of James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (voice by John Goodman) and one-eyed Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). The pair encounter a tiny human girl named Boo, who to their dismay, doesn’t scare quite as easy as the rest of the kids behind the doors generated by the factory that the film is named for.

Needleman and Smitty Daniel Gerson Monsters Inc
Fun fact: Remember side characters Needleman and Smitty? Dan Gerson originally voiced them as a vocal guide, but he did so well that his voice stayed on through to Monsters Inc.’s release.

Gerson also co-wrote Disney’s take on Marvel’s Big Hero 6, which went on to be an international hit in 2014, grossing over $657k in box offices worldwide. The film won both the Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Animated Movie and Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

To say that Pixar has changed the way we look and enjoy “kid’s films” is an understatement, and there is no doubt Dan Gerson had a hand in making that happen as he is credited as a contributor to numerous other productions, including Up, Cars, Chicken Little and last year’s hit Inside Out.

In an interview at the Monsters University premiere, Gerson had some pretty awesome words of wisdom that aspiring screenplay writers can take to heart:

[W]e were on the movie for three and a half years. People can’t understand how it could take that long to write. It’s just that you’re doing different iterations of the movie and it’s getting better every time. […] The main thing is just to write, and we meet a lot of young writers who say, “I want to get into the business, how do I get into the business?” And a lot of them have trouble completing their first screenplay…you only get better by writing and rewriting and rewriting.


Fans who wish to honor Dan Gerson’s memory may donate to the Brain Tumor Program at UCLA.

From all of us here at What’s A Geek: Thank you for all the wonderful stories, Mr. Gerson. You will be sorely missed.

Noey Pico

Audioromantic, geek and gamer. Currently a contributing editor to both Girls Got Game and What's A Geek, while occasionally moonlighting as fictional characters online. Flails a lot. A LOT.

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