You may have known him as the voice of Heimlich the caterpillar from Pixar’s hit film "A Bug’s Life", but to the folks at Pixar in Emeryville Joe Ranft was so much more. He was a story man, a voice artist, a humorist, a family man, and an artist. As a lead on nearly every film Pixar produced (short and feature length), there is no doubt he was an important part of the spirit that makes Pixar so uniquely successful.
Prior to his work at Pixar, Ranft (imbd) had a very successful career at Disney working on projects ranging from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" to "The Lion King" to "Oliver and Company". He became known for his ability to tell a story, figure out what was wrong with a script and fix it. At Pixar when doing the pre-production work he filled in as the temporary voice for Heimlich the overweight caterpillar. Unable to find a better voice through casting, he ended up doing the part. That was the launch of a successful voice career for Ranft as well.
The new geration of animation storytellers is just getting started and already we’ve lost one of the best. So sad. My best wishes to everyone up in Emeryville, in Burbank, and all who know and loved Joe.