News: Tom McLaughlin: R.I.P 1957-2013


My good friend Thomas Mclaughlin passed away last week. Some of you may have known him from the old Warner Bros days and others from his days at Cartoon Network. Tom, if you knew him was like an M&M, he had a hard shell but was all soft and sweet inside once you got past his Brooklyn bravado. Most only knew him as a sheet timer but he was much more than that being a talented painter and designer as well.

Tom was a superman to many of us. He was never afraid, at least outwardly, and he would truly take a bullet for you, never mind have your back in a bar fight or any trouble you might be in. In his early days he was a lifeguard and avid surfer and surfed regularly up until he died.

Tom had so many stories when you hung out with him and he was so funny that it was like watching stand up comedy. He a great sense of timing and delivery which is rare and a true gift for storytelling.

I met Tom on my first job about 25 years ago working on Broadcast Arts in NYC as I animated a Honey Nut Cheerios commercial and he would drop by my desk to chat and offer advice on my drawings. At the time he was coming off working on Pee Wee’s Playhouse and he had a development deal for a pilot back in ’87 to do a short called Jackie Bison for I think ABC. I was amazed that one guy could make a show. He had so much confidence and really inspired me with that one piece of film. He got another development deal at WB around 1999 about a kid who could travel through dreams and I was fortunate enough to be asked to board it for him. He had a million ideas coursing through his head and sometimes when you talked to him he would speak SO fast you had to decipher what he said. My wife and I still quote things he said 10 years ago.

Tom was a good dude and was about to embark on the next chapter of his life as he cruised into the digital age. The animation business he was in is very transient, you move from one job to the next, spending every day with people for years and then suddenly losing connection and as such for a short time Tom and I lost touch. He would occasionally text or email me and call me an ass. I’d call him Asshole, and he’d text back in true Tom fashion. “That’s Mr. Asshole to you.”

Last year, I reconnected with him and we spoke often. Towards the end he was taking my Storyboard Pro class at Studio Arts every Wednesday and I looked forward to seeing him each week. The night before he died I missed the class and cancelled it due to a bad back. The last thing he ever said to me was “You’re a retard for missing storyboard class. Love, Tom.” in an email. That was Tom in a nutshell. He is survived by his wife Brenda and his three children. I will truly miss him.
This fund is being set up for the McLaughlin family and the hole Tom left when he past away. My hope is that this money you all generously give might go towards his burial, and the trip that Brenda will take as she journey’s back with Tom’s ashes to let his lifeguard pals take him out to the ocean and spread his ashes there which was Tom’s wish. Please give generously, and if you have a special Tom story you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. We are trying also to get together some sort of memorial and perhaps might read them during the memorial so check back here regulatory for updates. –


You can donate to his fund here.

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  1. Tom was a great guy, with much positive energy. I was in California a couple years ago, and we talked on the phone and tried to get together, but unfortunately I did not go out of my way to see him. He started lifeguarding after me at the Central Mall at Jones Beach, in New York. That is as close to urban lifeguard as it gets, with big crowds and sometimes big surf. He was the typical lifeguard, blond, handsome,and strong. He called me Gotts, and we had many laughs together. Rest in piece Tom.We will miss you. Viking

  2. I read this yesterday and came back today. Just saw the sentence about you and your wife quoting things he said ten years ago.

    I told my wife about him last night and started telling Tom McLaughlin stories from my Broadcast Arts days. I had her, and myself, laughing harder than we have in a long time. It was a ‘once a month laugh’ for us. We laughed till we couldn’t breathe.

    That’s an incredible gift to give, and Tom was capable of it. I never knew a person could be so funny and so ballsy. Rest in peace, pal.

    • Yep we did it the week he dies. Long story short, I was producing and directing a show for Kids WB and he was working for me doing freelance sheets. Something got messed up with his check one time and he didn’t get it when it was due and he got piseed and called the accoutnant at the studio.
      Tom: “Where’s my check?”
      Accountant: “Who’s this?”
      Tom: “Tom and my check isnt here.”
      Accountant:Sorry about that Tom but I don’t see an invoice for your-
      Tom: Listen lady get your fat ass on your bicycle and ride that fucking check to my house. Got a pen? Here’s my address.”
      The accountant hung up and came to my office to complain that it wasn’t right to speak to her like that etc.
      A half hour later he shows up wanting to talk to the accountant and she dodged him like the plague. Wrote his check though! Without an invoice.

      To this day if my wife or I don’t do something we said we were gonna do we tell each other to ‘get on your bicycle an…”

  3. Mike says, I have not seen Tom in 30 years. But he was the cool guy you wanted to be friends with, so other people would like you. I was five years older, and being pretty cool myself, when I met Tom at the beach. I knew I wanted to like him and have him like me, to be cool.

  4. I just saw this and am deeply saddened to learn that Tom McLaughlin has passed away. I worked with him only briefly at Stan Lee Media, but I can attest that he was a great guy who genuinely cared about the artists on his team. One production fell very far behind schedule and Tom was given the task of getting us caught up. We had to farm out work to freelancers. After I had worked all my regular staff hours, Tom allowed me to take work home and get paid as a freelancer… and he absolutely made sure I got paid. He said he would pay me out of his own pocket if he had to, and then he would make the company reimburse him. That is my memory of Tom, always taking care of his crew.

    I regret I didn’t know him beyond my few months at SLM, but even in that short time, I could see he was a very genuine guy.

    • That’s a great story about Tom, because yeah he was like that. He would literally give you the shirt off his back and freeze rather than let you be uncomfortable. The world is a tiny bit darker because of his passing.

  5. known Tom and family since elementary school thru High School.
    One of the most incredible persons to have known in my life. Great Athlete, Artist, and most of all “friend”. I have unfortunately have not seen Tom in many years and a regret that will stay with me and others for the balance of our lives. Tom touched many lives, and will be sorely missed by everyone that new him. Tom “Rest In Peace”

  6. Does anyone have a picture of the memorable Mural Painting Tommy made on the wall the senior lounge at Division Avenue HS??? A great artist to say the least.

  7. I have known Tom since I was 15 as he was the lifeguard at field 4 Jones Beach. We lost contact over the years but reconnected at Chuck McCann’s birthday party a few years back. Often he and his son Chris would join us on Outlaw Radio.Everyone loved him and adored Chris. One day he showed up on the show
    with a refrigerator and plugged it into the outside patio…It remains there. This was truly a shock and we are consumed with sadness…Everyone loved Tommy the Lifeguard

  8. Michele Marranzini Ferrari

    Is the collecting for Tommy’s family still going on? I just came across this site by accident and am shocked and grieved at his passing. I knew him from his bar tending days at Uncle Sam’s and knew him as a guy who worked like a dog doing that, life guarding and trying to get his art career started. I don’t think he ever slept! I would like to post this on my Facebook page if funds are still needed and just to let other s from Long Island know of his passing. The world is a much darker place now that he’s not in it. My condolences to his family .

    • Sorry but no it is not… I have lost touch with his wife and so no there is no way to get any money to his family. Yeah he was a good dude and will be sorely missed. He used to call me up and not even say hello, I was greeted with an insult. Funny guy! I miss him a lot. Of course feel free to post anything you like on Facebook, especially of his passing.

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