Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Over the years, Eric animated on such feature films as, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Fantasia," "Bambi," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "Sleeping Beauty," "The Jungle Book," as well as nearly 20 shorts and six television specials. Later, he served as a consultant on "The Black Cauldron" and "The Great Mouse Detective."
In the late 1970s, Eric expanded the Studio's Talent Program to find and train new and talented animators from colleges and art schools across the nation. This program, which still exists today, came at a crucial juncture in Disney's history, when many veteran animators were stepping down from their drawing boards. Subsequently, through his close work with young animators, Eric helped preserve the integrity of Disney animation for generations to come.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Woolie contributed to more than 30 Disney shorts including "Water Babies," "Mickey's Fire Brigade" and "Donald in Mathmagic Land." He also contributed his animation skill to such classic animated features as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "101 Dalmatians," "The Jungle Book," and more.
In 1963, Woolie became the first animator in the history of the company to be given the directorial reins of an entire animated feature, beginning with "The Sword in the Stone." He also directed the cartoon featurette "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" which won an Academy Award® in 1969.
After Walt Disney's untimely death in 1966, Woolie helped unify the Studio's stable of egos and talent. As fellow animator Frank Thomas recalls, Woolie was a "very strong leader" during that unsettling time. After nearly 50 years with the Studio, Woolie retired in 1981.
In June 1934, Milt applied to The Walt Disney Studios and was hired to work as an assistant animator on such shorts as "Mickey's Circus," "Lonesome Ghosts" and "The Ugly Duckling," which won an Oscar® for Best Animated Short. Over the years, Milt contributed to such Disney features as "Melody Time," "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad," "Cinderella," "Lady and the Tramp," "101 Dalmatians," "The Jungle Book," and "The Rescuers," among others.
Because Milt was so good at his craft, he was often assigned the toughest of Disney tasks: animating human characters, such as Peter Pan, Alice of "Alice in Wonderland" and the Prince in "Sleeping Beauty." He was just as adept at animating animal characters, as well, including Bambi, the snooty Llama in "Saludos Amigos," and Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear in "Song of the South."
Monday, February 12, 2007
Marc joined Disney in 1935 as an apprentice animator on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and moved on to story sketch and character design on "Bambi" and "Victory Through Air Power." Over the years, he animated on such Disney classic features as "Song of the South," "Cinderella" and "Alice in Wonderland," as well as shorts, including "African Diary," "Duck Pimples" and "Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom."
He later transferred to Disney's design and development organization, today known as Walt Disney Imagineering. As one of Disney's original Imagineers, Marc contributed whimsical story and character concepts for such Disneyland attractions as the Enchanted Tiki Room, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and The Jungle Cruise.
On January 21, 1935, Ollie joined The Walt Disney Studios as an apprentice animator, working on such early Disney shorts as "Mickey's Garden" and "The Tortoise and the Hare," which won an Academy Award® for Best Cartoon. He went on to work as animator and directing animator on more than 24 feature films including, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Fantasia," "Song of the South," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Lady and the Tramp," and "Sleeping Beauty," among others.
An avid train enthusiast, in his spare time, Ollie created a backyard railroad at his home and was instrumental in helping stir Walt Disney's own personal interest in trains.
Over the years, Frank worked on nearly 20 animated features including, "Pinocchio," "Peter Pan," "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella," "The Jungle Book," and "101 Dalmatians," as well as numerous shorts. He also accompanied Walt Disney and a select group of artists on a goodwill tour through South America, in 1941, on behalf of the American Government, which inspired the animated features "Saludos Amigos" and "The Three Caballeros."
In his spare time, Frank played piano with the internationally famous "Firehouse Five Plus Two" jazz band, along with fellow Disney artists, including Ward Kimball.
After nearly 45 years with the Studio, Frank retired in 1978. He went on to co-author four books with life-long friend and fellow animator Ollie Johnston, including the definitive "Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life," "Too Funny For Words," "Walt Disney's Bambi: The Story and the Film," and "The Disney Villain." He and Ollie were also the subjects of the 1995 documentary "Frank and Ollie," which chronicles their unique friendship, which began at Stanford, and creative relationship at Disney.
Ward Kimball joined The Walt Disney Studios, in 1934, and contributed to most all of its beloved animated features up until his retirement in 1972. Among the many memorable Disney characters he brought to life were Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio," Tweedledee and Tweedledum in "Alice in Wonderland" and Lucifer the Cat in "Cinderella."
Ward also directed two Academy Award®-winning short subjects including, "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom," which was the first CinemaScope cartoon, and "It's Tough to Be a Bird," which featured both live-action and animation combined. During the 1950s, he produced and directed three one-hour space films for the "Disneyland" television show.
I'm currently in the process of posting on Youtube all of the Disney Family Album documentaries relating to Walt Disney's fabled "Nine Old Men". The Disney Family Album series aired on the Disney Channel in the eighties and included documentaries on 7 of the 9. There's much on the net about Frank and Ollie, Marc Davis and Ward Kimball. There's precious little about the remaining five. Milt Kahl, Eric Larson, and Woolie Reitherman all were subjects in the Family Album series and it's a joy to hear from these gentlemen, in their own words right from their own mouths, about their lives and careers. Les Clark and John Lounsbery had passed away before this series.
Each episode is 30 minutes long and is split into 3 parts. Frank's and Marc's were previously posted by someone else, along with parts 2 and 3 of Ward's. I posted the missing part 1 of Ward's, along with the complete 3 parts of Milt's, Woolie's, Ollie's and Eric's.
Another episode I have posted is on Ken Anderson, Disney Art Director, Character Designer, and Imagineer.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
This year's Animation Show was in Atlanta at the Carter Center on Friday and Saturday February 2nd and 3rd. The Show is the brainchild of Mike Judge (of Beavis and Butthead fame) and Don Hertzfeldt.
A group of us from the Studios hit the Friday night showing at 9pm. I wasn't originally keen on attending since I thought last year's show was a bit underwhelming, but Mike Judge was in attendance this time around and was doing a Q&A afterwards, so I went along.
I must say that I really enjoyed this year's show. It was a solid offering of entertaining animation. A few of my favorites: "Dreams and Desires" Directed by Joanna Quinn, "9" Directed by Shane Acker, "Game Over" Directed by Pes, and "Rabbit" Directed by Run Wrake.
So after the show and before Mike Judge's Q&A, they had a quick trivia contest to give away a couple of Animation Show Box Set DVDs. The final question was prefaced with "Now here's a question that no one in any previous city that we have been to has gotten correct". Hmmmm, must be hard. So the question is "In Animation Show 1, we showed a clip from the Disney Short "Mars and Beyond". Who created this short?" which of course I knew the answer was Ward Kimball, even without ever having seen Animation Show 1! So I shout out the answer, but was a split second too late as I hear "WA..." just as I shouted the same! It turned out that the guy who beat me too the punch was my fellow animator Mike who I work with at Turner, so I wasn't too upset. But, the MC was so flabbergasted that TWO people knew the answer, he hooked me up with a poster! Sweet!
Mikey with his DVD and me with my poster! Thanks to Darrell for the photo!
Then Mike Judge came out for a short Q&A, some photos and autographs. It was a really great evening.
Today, I decided to check the Animation Show website to see just which cities they had been to previously and to marvel at them for not knowing this answer. And here they are:
Santa Barbera, CA, Seattle, WA, Boston, MA, Portland, OR, Tucson, AZ, New Brunswick, NJ, New York, NY, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Berkeley, CA, Hartford, CT and Washington, DC.