J. Michael Mendel, an Emmy-winning animation producer best known for his work on The Simpsons and Rick and Morty has died on September , 23 – two days short of his 55th birthday.
Mendel began working on popular Adult Swim series Rick and Morty when it launched in 2013. The cable network released a statement Monday calling him the “heart” of the show’s production team.
“All of us at Adult Swim are devastated by the untimely passing of Mike Mendel,” the statement began. “Mike was the heart of the Rick and Mortyproduction family, his fantastic talent and wit will be sorely missed.”
“Mike was a universally respected Emmy-winning producer with over 25 years in the industry, who guided and supported a generation of artists, writers and creators and his absence will be felt by the entire community,” the statement continued. “Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.”
The cause of his death has not yet been confirmed.
Justin Roiland, the co-creator of Rick and Morty, paid tribute to Mendel by tweeting on Monday: “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.”
“I can’t handle seeing his cropped photo in headlines with the word dead in them, Harmon wrote on Instagram. “I hate the phrase RIP it makes me picture styrofoam tombstones at a Halloween party. Rick and Morty has lost Mike Mendel, a man that deserves a better obituary and in my angry opinion, a better god. That opinion is a projection of my shame. I took Mike for granted. He was always needed and he was always there. He’s going to be needed tomorrow and he won’t be there. The wound will scar but there will be a hole through everything we do from now on. I have only angry things to say for now, that’s how valuable mike was. I can’t keep editing these words so here’s a kitten and I’m gonna take a nap.”
Mendel was credited as a producer on 207 episodes of “The Simpsons” between 1989 and 2015 and won Emmys in 1995, 1997 and 1998 for his work on the animated series. He went on to produce 22 episodes of “Rick and Morty” between 2013 and 2017, winning a fourth Emmy for his work on the fan-favorite Season 3 episode “Pickle Rick.”
He also worked with James L. Brooks on “Broadcast News,” “Big” and “Jerry Maguire.”
Mendel attended Monroe-Woodbury High School in Central Valley, New York.A resident of Studio City, Los Angeles, he was married to Juel Bestrop, a casting director for series like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Life in Pieces, and had two children