Hirsh, Michael

nelvana logo 1980s

Michael Hirsh was born in Belgium in 1948. He arrived in Toronto at the age of three, and a decade later the family relocated once more to New York City. While a student at the Bronx School of Science, Hirsh became interested in filmmaking and spent much of his time back in Toronto at York University, working with various partners on a number of live action and animated films. One of those partners was Patrick Loubert.
After graduating, Loubert and Hirsh worked briefly for Cineplast, creating animated sequences for Sesame Street. In 1971, they founded their own company, Laff Arts, which became Nelvana one year later with the arrival of English animator Clive Smith. Nelvana’s earliest years were spent producing short ‘filler’ films (2-4 minute films that could be used to complete an hour of programming when a feature or series film was short) for CBC in addition to whatever contract work they could find. In 1977, the fledgling company produced A Cosmic Christmas; this caught the attention of George Lucas, who hired them to produce a ten-minute animated segment for a Star Wars television special. He subsequently hired Nelvana to co-produce (with his own Lucasfilm Ltd.) two ABC-TV series, Ewoks and Droids. Gradually, the partners at Nelvana evolved into their roles: Loubert became a key administrative figure and co-CEO; Smith became the director of Nelvana’s most important films, and Hirsh asserted himself as Nelvana’s co-CEO and major spokesman for the organization. Nelvana’s period of artistic success ground to a sudden halt when the heavy metal-influenced feature Rock & Rule became a financial debacle; though the film has gone on to achieve cult status, Nelvana could have folded as a result of the film’s failure.
  Hirsh persuaded the owners of The Care Bears franchise to have his studio produce their feature film and television series, and The Care Bears effectively saved the company. Nelvana went on to produce some of the most popular children’s series of the 1980s and 1990s, including My Pet Monster, The Adventures of Tintin, Rupert the Bear, Pippi Longstocking, Babar, Franklin, as well as the live action T & T (starring Mr. T.).
  Nelvana now has hundreds of employees all over the world, and the company’s backcatalogue includes over 1400 productions. It also now produces both 2D and 3D animation, and its productions are seen in 180 countries. Nelvana was sold to Corus Entertainment in September 2000, and Hirsh resigned his position as CEO in October 2002. Since that time, Hirsh has served as CEO of Cookie Jar Entertainment; he also serves as CEO of the company’s education division, which includes Carson-Dellosa Publishing and HighReach Learning.
  Michael Hirsh is the coauthor of The Great Canadian Comics. He lives in Toronto.


Nelvana website http://www.nelvana.com/

The Cookie Jar Company (DHX Media) website http://www.thecookiejarcompany.com/index.php

Hirsh, Michael and Patrick Loubert. The Great Canadian Comic Books. Toronto: P. Martin Associates, 1971.

Hume, Christopher. “Nelvana exhibition traces a very animated 25 years.” Toronto Star, July 18, 1996, G.10.

Marotte, Bertrand. “Private equity may get its hand in the Cookie Jar.” The Globe and Mail, April 26, 2007, B.6.

Won, Shirley. “Hirsh wants Cookie Jar full of ‘brands’.” The Globe and Mail, July 14, 2006, B.3.

Znaimer, Libby. “Just an average animated day: Doodlebops creator is always on.” National Post, May 20, 2006, FW.9.


Accession No.
2003.004, 2008.014
Dates of creation
1970 2008
Physical description

44.1 m of textual records

1,804 photographs
· 556 prints
· 12 contact sheets
· 900 photocopies (col.)
· 10 transparencies
· 180 slides
· 146 negatives

346 graphic materials
· 248 animation cels
· 55 paintings (54 backgrounds, 1 greeting card)
· 29 drawings (13 drawings,15 cleanup animations, 1 key animation)
· 14 posters

128 audio recordings
· 50 audio cassettes (ca. 64.75 hrs.)
· 46 CDs (ca. 32 hrs.)
· 32 CDRs (ca. 27.75 hrs.)

1,860 video recordings
· 5 ¾ in. cassettes (ca. 2.5 hrs.)
· 32 BetaMax cassettes (ca. 23.5 hrs.)
· 4 Betacam SP cassettes (ca. 1.5 hrs)
· 26 DVDs (ca. 27 hrs.)
· 86 DVDRs (ca. 66.5 hrs.)
· 1 MP3 (ca. 40 min.)
· 1,705 VHS cassettes (ca. 1,067.75 hrs.)
· 1 Zip disk

193 artifacts
books (557 titles)
periodicals (4 titles)

Scope and content

Accession 2008.014 is divided into 6 series according to format.
These are: Textual and Other Material, Photographic Material, Graphic Material, Audio Material, Video Material, and Artifacts.
  The first series, Textual and Other Material, includes scripts related to Nelvana (scripts, business, legal records, development files,correspondence, personal diaries, notebooks and other production-related files). This series also includes 31 series bibles and over 500 books and periodicals.
  The second series, Photographic Material, includes photographs related to the animation production process, as well as images of Nelvana staff at work and play.
  The third series, Graphic Material, includes material from different parts of the production process (animation cells, backgrounds, and cleanups).
They include some of the best known and most valuable of such materials, including Tintin, Rupert, Babar and Dog City. This series also includes posters.
  The fourth series, Audio Material, consists largely of commercial recordings used for research. This series also includes rough mixes for Nelvana productions.
  The fifth series, Video Material, primarily consists of completed Nelvana programs, as well as different versions of productions in progress.
  The sixth series, Artifacts, includes a number of promotional items (toys, stuffed animals, clothing, etc.) from Hirsh’s productions.

This fonds includes graphic and textual material relating to a number of productions, including:

  • The Edison Twins (Television, 1982)
  • Droids (Television, 1985)
  • The Care Bears (Television, 1985)
  • Babar (Television, 1989)
  • Rupert (Television, 1991)
  • The Adventures of Tintin (Television, 1991)
  • Eek! the Cat (Television, 1992)
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (Television, 1993)
  • Dog City (Television, 1992)
  • Tales from the Cryptkeeper (Television, 1993)
  • Budgie the Little Helicopter (Television, 1994)
  • Tabaluga (Television, 1994)
  • Tales from the Crypt (Television, 1996)
  • Franklin (Television, 1997)
  • Bob and Margaret (Television, 1998)
  • The Doodlebops (Television, 2004)

This fonds includes audiovisual material relating to a number of productions, including:

  • A Cosmic Christmas (Television, 1977)
  • The Care Bears (Television, 1985)
  • Tres Estelles (Television, 1987)
  • My Pet Monster (Television, 1987)
  • T & T (Television, 1988)
  • Babar (Television, 1989)
  • Beetlejuice (Television, 1989)
  • Little Rosey (Television, 1990)
  • Ren & Stimpy Show (Television, 1991)
  • The Adventures of Tintin (Television, 1991)
  • Rupert (Television, 1991)
  • Eek! the Cat (Television, 1992)
  • Fievel’s American Tails (Television, 1992)
  • Family Dog (Television, 1993)
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (Television, 1993)
  • Dog City (Television, 1992)
  • Free Willy (Television, 1994)
  • The Magic School Bus (Television, 1994)
  • Tales from the Cryptkeeper (Television, 1994)
  • Little Lulu (Television, 1995)
  • Little Bear (Television, 1995)
  • The Hardy Boys (Television, 1995)
  • The Neverending Story (Television, 1995)
  • Blazing Dragons (Television, 1996)
  • Stickin’ Around (Television, 1996)
  • Nancy Drew (Television, 1995)
  • Waynehead (Television, 1996)
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Television, 1996)
  • Donkey Kong Country (Television, 1997)
  • Ned’s Newt (Television, 1997)
  • Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicle (Television, 1997)
  • Franklin (Television, 1997)
  • Anatole (Television, 1998)
  • Flying Rhino Junior High (Television, 1998)
  • Dumb Bunnies (Television, 1998)
  • Bob and Margaret (Television, 1998)
  • Birdz (Television, 1998)
  • Pippi Longstocking (Television, 1997)
  • Rolie Polie Olie (Television, 1998)
  • Blaster’s Universe (Television, 1999)
  • George and Martha (Television, 1999)
  • Redwall (Television, 2001)
  • The Doodlebops (Television, 2004)
  • Spider Riders (Television, 2006)

Accession 2003.004 is divided into 2 series according to format. These are: Textual Materials and AudioVisual Records.
  The first series, Textual Materials, relates to Hirsh’s activities as CEO of Nelvana Ltd. It is divided into 7 subseries: Development, Legal, Business Affairs, Accounting, Production, Publicity & Distribution, and Photographs. This section also includes 117 pieces of original production artwork (storyboards, animation cels, backgrounds, etc.)
  The second series, AudioVisual Records, includes 456 videocassettes and 10 audio documents related to the donor and Nelvana Ltd. Productions. The videos are primarily screening copies, though some document the various stages of production (producer’s cuts, alternative edits, demo reels) and others reflect Hirsh’s interest in animation from outside Canada.

Rights and access

A) Some restrictions exist. Please consult an archivist for list.
B) Material is subject to copyright restrictions; please consult an archivist.

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