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Working with Walt

Working with Walt: Interviews with Disney Artists

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Working with Walt
    Book Description:

    Includes interviews with Ken Anderson, Les Clark, Larry Clemmons, Jack Cutting, Don Duckwall, Marcellite Garner, Harper Goff, Floyd Gottfredson, Dick Huemer, Wilfred Jackson, Eric Larson, Clarence Nash, Ken O'Connor, Herb Ryman, Ben Sharpsteen

    Walt Disney created or supervised the creation of live-action films, television specials, documentaries, toys, merchandise, comic books, and theme parks. His vision, however, manifested itself first and foremost in his animated shorts and feature-length cartoons, which are loved by millions around the world.

    Working with Walt: Interviews with Disney Artistscollects revealing conversations with animators, voice actors, and designers who worked extensively with Disney during the heyday of his animation studio. The book includes fifteen interviews with artists who directed segments of such classic animated features asDumboandFantasia. Some interviewed were part of Disney's famed team dubbed "The Nine Old Men of Animation," and some worked closely with Disney onSteamboat Willie, his first cartoon with sound.

    Among the subjects the interviewees discuss are the studio's working environment, the high-water mark of animation during Hollywood's Golden Age, and Disney's mixture of childlike charm and hard-nosed business drive. Through these voices, Don Peri preserves an account of the Disney magic from those who worked closely with him.

    Don Peri of Davis, California, first gained the confidence of Disney insiders through his work with animator, director, and producer Ben Sharpsteen. He has written and published extensively on Walt Disney's productions.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-918-3
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxiv)

    Like millions of Baby Boomers in the 1950s, I sat in front of the television set and watchedThe Mickey Mouse ClubMonday through Friday. With my family, we watchedDisneyland, the TV show, and eagerly awaited the opening of Disneyland, the theme park. I purchased my first serious paperback at about ten years of age and readThe Story of Walt Disneyby Diane Disney Miller and Pete Martin.

    My lifelong interest in Walt Disney blossomed into an avocation in 1974 when I met Ben Sharpsteen, a retired Disney animator, director, and producer. Together we wrote his memoirs of...

  5. Explanation of Terms
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  6. Ben Sharpsteen
    (pp. 1-31)

    Ben Sharpsteen was born in Tacoma, Washington, on November 4, 1895. After graduating from the University Farm (now the University of California at Davis) in 1916 and a stint in the Marine Corps during World War I, Ben began his career in New York working for many of the major animation studios there, including Hearst International, Paramount Studio, Jefferson Films, and the Max Fleischer Studio. He joined the Disney Studio in 1929 as the first of the New York animators and was paid a salary higher than Walt, Roy, and Ub Iwerks—the top Disney animator at that time. Ben...

  7. Dick Huemer
    (pp. 32-48)
    Dick Huemer, PH and Don Peri

    Dick Huemer was an animation pioneer, joining the Raoul Barre Cartoon Studio in New York City in 1916. Born January 2, 1898, and raised in New York City, he attended art classes at the National Academy of Design, the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, and the Art Students League. After Barre, Dick became the animation director at the Max Fleischer Studio and the Charles Mintz Studio.

    Dick joined the Walt Disney Studio in 1933 as an animator, contributing to twenty-five cartoons, includingLullaby Land, The Pied Piper, The China Shop, Grasshopper and the Ants, The Wise Little Hen(in which he...

  8. Clarence Nash
    (pp. 49-54)
    Clarence Nash and Don Peri

    Clarence “Ducky” Nash, born in Watinga, Oklahoma, in 1904, toured on the Chautauqua and Lyceum vaudeville circuits before arriving in Los Angeles in the early 1930s. While entertaining school children for the Adohr Milk Company and appearing on local radio, Clarence came to the attention of the Walt Disney Studio where he became the voice of Donald Duck. Donald vented through Clarence in 150 shorts, includingThe Wise Little Hen, Orphan’s Benefit, andDer Fuehrer’s Face, and five features, includingSaludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Fun and Fancy Free, andMelody Time. Foreign audiences heard Ducky’s inimitable Donald in their...

  9. Wilfred Jackson
    (pp. 55-82)
    Wilfred Jackson and Don Peri

    Wilfred Jackson, born in Chicago on January 24, 1906, was fresh out of Otis Art Institute, when he joined the Disney Studio in 1928 during the transition from Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to the Mickey Mouse cartoon series. He played an instrumental part (no pun intended) in developing a system for synchronizing sound and picture using a metronome. His discovery set the standard for sound synchronization. Although he worked as an animator, he quickly became one of Disney’s early directors, widely respected for his work on thirty shorts including Academy Award winnersThe Tortoise and the Hare, The Country Cousin,...

  10. Marcellite Garner
    (pp. 83-92)
    Marcellite Garner and Don Peri

    Marcellite Garner, born July 3, 1910, in Redlands, California, applied for a job at the Disney Studio in late 1929 and began work in February 1930, joining a studio staff of about thirty-five people. She was in the fledgling Ink and Paint Department but is best known for being the first voice of Minnie Mouse. Marcellite recalled that her first film as Minnie’s voice wasThe Cactus Kidin 1930 (although the web site IMDB credits her with Minnie’s voice back to 1928). Marcellite and Minnie were a duo in over forty cartoons, includingThe Birthday Party, Traffic Troubles, Mickey...

  11. Ken O’Connor
    (pp. 93-108)
    Ken O’Connor and Don Peri

    Ken O’Connor, born in Perth, Australia in 1908, immigrated to the United States in 1930 and joined the Disney Studio in 1935. He began his career in animation and later gravitated to story work and then layout and art direction. He worked on thirteen features and one hundred shorts. He is best known for his layout of the “Dance of the Hours” fromFantasiaand “The Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence fromDumbo. After working on war-related films such asFood Will Win the WarandEducation for Death, Ken returned to features and created the Fairy Godmother’s coach for...

  12. Floyd Gottfredson
    (pp. 109-118)
    Floyd Gottfredson and Don Peri

    Floyd Gottfredson, born in Kaysville, Utah, in 1905, joined the Disney Studio staff in 1930 as an inbetweener working on the short subjects. His initial interest was in cartoon strips, and four months after he started at the studio, Walt asked him to take over the fledgling Mickey Mouse cartoon strip, after Walt, Ub Iwerks, and Win Smith had developed it. Floyd’s assignment was to be temporary, but he stayed with the strips for forty-five years. He wrote the Mickey Mouse strip from 1930 to 1932, drew the Sunday Mickeys from 1932 to 1938, and ran the comic strip department...

  13. Les Clark
    (pp. 119-133)
    Les Clark and Don Peri

    Les Clark, born in Ogden, Utah, in 1907, had the good fortune to work at a lunch counter near the Disney Brothers Studio in 1925. He met Walt and Roy there, and two years later, Les asked Walt to look at his drawings. Walt liked what he saw and hired Les within a couple of days of his graduation from high school. Les stayed with the studio for the next forty-eight years. Les performed a variety of tasks before receiving his first animation assignment onThe Skeleton Dance. Over the years, he animated on over a hundred shorts where he...

  14. Ken Anderson
    (pp. 134-148)
    Ken Anderson and Don Peri

    Ken Anderson, born in Seattle, Washington, in 1909, joined the Disney Studio with a degree in architecture in 1934 and contributed greatly to Disney films and to Disneyland over a forty-four-year career. Ken began his career at Disney’s animating on the Silly Symphonies, includingThe Goddess of Spring, Three Orphan Kittens, andFerdinand the Bull. With the advent of feature films, Ken served as an art director onSnow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, The Reluctant Dragon, andThe Song of the South. He contributed to story onMelody Time, Cinderella, andThe Jungle Book. His versatility included layouts onPeter Pan...

  15. Larry Clemmons
    (pp. 149-155)
    Larry Clemmons and Don Peri

    Larry Clemmons was born in Chicago in 1906, raised in Sturgess, Michigan, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in architecture. He joined the Walt Disney Studio in 1932 as an inbetweener and contributed toMickey’s Man Friday, Mickey’s Circus, Hockey Champ, Practical Pig, Autograph Hound, Sea Scouts, The Volunteer Worker, Mr. Duck Steps Out, Billposters, Donald’s Vacation, andTugboat Mickey. Larry moved to the nascent story department and contributed toThe Reluctant Dragonprior to leaving the studio in the aftermath of the strike in 1941. After the war, he had an illustrious second career as...

  16. Herb Ryman
    (pp. 156-179)
    Herb Ryman and Don Peri

    Herb Ryman, born June 28, 1910, in Vernon, Illinois, and a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute, made his first mark in Hollywood as a storyboard illustrator at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer onMutiny on the Bounty, David Copperfield, The Good Earth, and other films. Herb took leave from MGM at the urging of actor Donald Crisp and traveled around the world in 1937. In 1938, he met Walt Disney, and his legendary career at Disney began. He was an art director onFantasiaandDumboand worked on other features such asVictory Through Air Poweras well. He left the studio...

  17. Jack Cutting
    (pp. 180-192)
    Jack Cutting and Don Peri

    Jack Cutting’s career at the Walt Disney Studios spanned forty-six years. He was born in New York City in 1908 and a fellow alumnus of the Otis Art Institute (with Wilfred Jackson and other soon-to-be Disney artists). He joined a staff of nineteen at the Disney Studio in 1929. Jack began as an assistant animator and contributed to twenty-five of the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons, before he became the first assistant director under the tutelage of Dave Hand. In 1938 Jack directedFarmyard Symphonyand in 1939 the Academy Award-winningThe Ugly Duckling.

    Jack evolved into casting voice...

  18. Harper Goff
    (pp. 193-207)
    Harper Goff and Don Peri

    A mutual interest in model trains brought Harper Goff and Walt Disney together in a London shop and led to Harper joining the Disney staff in the early 1950s. Harper, born March 16, 1911, in Fort Collins, Colorado, already had a distinguished career as a magazine illustrator and as a set designer for such Warner Bros. films asSergeant York, Casablanca, Charge of the Light Brigade, Captain Blood, associate producer and art director onThe Vikings, and art director onPete Kelly’s Bluesand later,Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. At Disney, Harper designed theNautilusfor20,000 Leagues...

  19. Eric Larson
    (pp. 208-220)
    Eric Larson and Don Peri

    Eric Larson, born in Cleveland, Utah, in 1905, joined the Disney Studio in 1933, with a degree from the University of Utah in journalism and recent experience in freelance journalism. He became an assistant animator and quickly rose through the ranks as an animator, contributing toSnow White, Fantasia, Bambi, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, andThe Jungle Bookand to twenty shorts and six television specials as one of Walt’s famed Nine Old Men of Animation. In later years Eric, with Don Duckwall, helped keep Walt’s dream alive by training and mentoring...

  20. Don Duckwall
    (pp. 221-238)
    Don Duckwall and Don Peri

    Don Duckwall came to the Disney Studio in 1939 fresh from a stint with the Pacific edition of theWall Street Journaland with a business degree from Kansas State. He worked as an assistant director in the Mickey and Pluto unit through the strike in 1941. He returned to the studio in 1955, again as an assistant director and over time became the Director of Animation Administration where he remained until his retirement in 1981. Don’s screen credits include production manager onThe Jungle Book, Robin Hood, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, andThe Fox and the...

  21. Index
    (pp. 239-246)