Joesph Henry "Joe" Ranft (born March 13, 1960 - August 16th, 2005) was an American Screenwriter, Animator, Storyboard Artist, Producer, Director, Magician and Voice Actor who worked at Pixar, Disney, Don Bluth and DIC Entertainment. He voiced Elmo St. Peters in The Brave Little Toaster, Spike on The Land Before Time, Igor on The Nightmare Before Christmas, Lenny on Toy Story 1, Heimlich on A Bug's Life, Wheezy on Toy Story 2 and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, Peter "Claws" Ward on Monsters, Inc., Jacques the Shrimp on Finding Nemo, and Red on Cars 1.
On August 16, 2005, Ranft was riding as a passenger in his 2005 Honda Element when the driver, Elegba Earl, lost control and crashed through the guard rail while heading northbound on Highway 1. The car plunged 130 feet into the mouth of the Navarro River in Mendocino County, California. Both Ranft and Earl were killed. Another passenger, Eric Frierson, survived by escaping through the sun roof and received moderate injuries.
Ranft was survived by his wife of 20 years, Sue Barry, and their children, Jordan and Sophia as well as his brother. He died during production of Cars, which he co-directed and was dedicated to him. His remains were cremated. The film and tie-in game are dedicated to his memory, as is Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, which Ranft executive produced. Henry Selick called him "the story giant of our generation."
In Selick's production of Coraline, the moving SUV that moves Coraline into her new apartment is emblazoned with a "Ranft Moving, Inc." logo, named in honor of the late animator. The movers themselves are modeled after Joe and Jerome, and Jerome Ranft voices one of the movers