Mike Mendel (J. Michael Mendel), the four-time Emmy Award-winning animation producer, best known for his work on The Simpsons and Rick and Morty, has died at the age of 54. He died on Sunday night, just two days before his 55th birthday.
The cause of death was not immediately revealed, but according to his wife, Juel Bestrop, he died of “natural causes” on Sunday night at his home in Studio City
Tributes are pouring in on Twitter from colleagues, friends, and industry players, including Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim that airs Rick and Morty.
— [adult swim] (@adultswim) September 24, 2019
My friend, partner, and line producer Mike Mendel passed away. I am devastated. My heart breaks for his family. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you by my side Mike. I’m destroyed.
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) September 23, 2019
Clearly, J. Michael Mendel will be missed by his peers.
— Al Jean (@AlJean) September 23, 2019
#RIP Mike Mendel, 54, line producer and four-time Emmy winner on 'Rick and Morty' and 'The Simpsons.' Got his start working as a P.A. on the James L. Brooks films 'Broadcast News' and 'Big.' https://t.co/g0spDTWDJD
— Mike Barnes (@MikeBarnes4) September 24, 2019
— Seth Green (@SethGreen) September 24, 2019
For Twitter, horrible news. Mike was a great boss and an awesome guy. I wish we had more time to get to know each other, but he still left a lasting impact on my life and career.
J. Michael Mendel Dead: ‘The Simpsons’ Producer Was 54 – Variety https://t.co/TvHyamH4Hs
— Brandon! Williams (@Stupidartpunk) September 24, 2019
Who was Mike Mendel?
Mike Mendel (J. Michael Mendel) was born on September 24, 1964, in Radford, Virginia, USA. He attended Monroe-Woodbury High School in Woodbury, Central Valley, New York, and later Syracuse University.
His career took off while he was still a student at Syracuse University. He took summer jobs and worked as a production assistant on TV shows such as ABC’s long-running soap operas All My Children (1970-2011) and Loving (1983-1995).
After he left Syracuse University, Mendel worked with James L. Brooks as a production assistant on the romantic comedy-drama Broadcast News (1987) and the fantasy drama Big (1988). He later worked with Brooks as an associate producer on the romantic comedy sports film Jerry Maguire (1996). He also worked as a post-production supervisor on Fox’s Tracy Ullman Show.
The Tracey Ullman Show first produced shorts featuring The Simpsons. Mendel joined The Simpsons in 1989 as a producer after it was adapted as a television series on its own.
Mendel was also known for his work as a producer on multiple episodes of Rick and Morty (2013-2017). Other animation credits include Al Jean’s The Critic (1994), Eddie Murphy’s The PJs (1999-2000), Angus Oblong and Jace Richdale’s The Oblongs (2001-2002), and Mike Scully’s The Pitts (2003).
Others include Comedy Central’s Kid Notorious (2003) and Jared and Jerusha Hess’s Napoleon Dynamite (2012).
He won four Emmys (Outstanding Animated Program) in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2018, for his work on episodes of The Simpsons ( episodes Lisa’s Wedding, Homer’s Phobia, Trash of the Titans) and Rick and Morty (episode Pickle Rick).
Mendel is survived his wife Juel Bestrop, an Emmy-winning casting director, who has worked on TV shows, such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Life in Pieces. He is also survived by his two children.