the creator of the animated cartoon character Little Mole has died aged 90.
Czech Zdenek Miler got the idea for the figure, which proved a hit with millions of children around the world including the UK, when he stumbled over a molehill in woods west of Prague.
He illustrated a number of children books and made several cartoons, but his most famous creation was the mole.
The character dating from 1956 is always cheerful and ready to help those in need.
The very first episode titled How the Mole got his Trousers, was an immediate hit.
The film won the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in Italy.
Since then, 50 episodes have been made, attracting a wide audience among children in Eastern Europe and countries such as Germany, Austria, China and India. It was also shown on BBC children’s television.
A stuffed toy of Little Mole, known as “krtek” in Czech, returned to Earth in July after a voyage to outer space on Nasa’s shuttle Endeavour.
The toy accompanied American astronaut Andrew Feustel on Nasa’s last shuttle mission. Mr Feustel’s wife, Indira, is of Czech origin.
Mr Miler was looking for a new creature for a new film in the 1950s that would not be used by anyone else.
“Walt Disney used for his cartoons almost all animals, but one,” Mr Miler said. “That was chosen by me.”
The mole does not speak and uses just non-verbal exclamations to express his feelings, a strategy that resonates well with an international audience.
More than five million copies of books with the mole adventures, translated into 20 languages, have been sold worldwide as well as numerous mole toys.
Mr Miler personally signed off on all designs based on the mole until he died.
“He never disappointed me,” Mr Miler said about the mole. “He made me happy all my life.”