Thursday, March 22, 2012

They Made the Magic: Milt Kahl

Milt Kahl, one of Disney's nine old men, was born in San Francisco on March 22, 1909.  In 1925 he began working for the Oakland Post Enquirer as a layout artist and illustrator.  While working there, Kahl worked with Ham Luske, who also ended up working for Disney.  He then worked for the San Francisco Bulletin, drew movie ads, and took art classes where he met fellow students Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

After seeing Three Little Pigs, Kahl decided to become an animator.  He joined the Disney Studio as an inbetweener on June 25, 1934.  He worked as an assistant for Bill Roberts.  There he was quickly promoted to assistant animator.  He later was promoted to the position of supervising animator over the artists. 

In an interview  in 1972, Kahl said that on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs he animated the forest animals along wit Eric Larson, Louis Schmitt, and James Algar.  However, J. B. Kauffman noted that Kahl also worked on the log alligators, and even helped on some scenes of the Prince.

During Pinocchio's production, Kahl redesigned Pinocchio and found success as a character designer.  He became known for his work on difficult characters (especially human ones): Thumper, Alice, Peter Pan, Wendy, Tramp, Prince Phillip, Brer Rabbit, Bear, and Fox, Shere Kahn, Madame Medusa, Anita, Roger, Sir Ector, Madam Mim, Georges Hautecourt, and the Sheriff of Nottingham.  Kahl joined Jack Hannah and Ollie Johnston to lecture at Cal Arts where the students included John Lasseter, Brad Bird, and John Musker.  During this lecture he said: " your princes and princesses and hero-types have always been the most difficult.  That's been one of my frustrations over the years, because there are so many things I would have loved to have done on those pictures, like Captain Hook, the Queen of hearts, and, of...Ichabod Crane.  But,  I'm stuck with Peter Pan and Wendy and Alice and the Prince in Sleeping Beauty.' (Walt's People Volume 7)

On the short Ferdinand the Bull - Kahl even provided the one line of the bull's dialogue.

Kahl retired in 1976 and became a Disney Legend in 1989.  He passed away on April 19, 1987.

For additional information and video, check out the Oscar's past event; Milt Kahl: The Animation Michelangelo.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

TCM Film Festival Announces Snow White

Turner Classic Movies has announced that it will screen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as part of their film festival.  It will be shown on Saturday, April 14,  at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at 1 p.m.  Festival passes can be purchased here: Individual screening passes are not sold in advanced and are first come first serve basis the day of.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

They Made the Magic: Stuart Buchanan

Stuart Buchanan was born on March 18, 1894.  His deep voice created a career in radio.  Buchanan provided the voice for Humbert the Huntsman in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  He also provided the voice of the announcer in Saludos Amigos. He died in 1974.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Pine scented Dopey sold by Disney Store

They Made the Magic: Ken Anderson

Born in Seattle on March 17, 1909, Anderson orginally studied as an architect.  He atteded school in Washington and then got a scholarship to study in Europe. His original ambition was to be an architect, but after not finding a job opening, he worked at MGM as a draftsman. 
He began his Disney career in 1934 on a whim; he was driving by and his wife suggested he try Disney, and that was that.  While there he held the titles in: art direction, art supervision, story, color, styling, layout, production and character development.  It was Anderson who related the events of that famous meeting where Walt acted out the story of Snow White, in fact, Anderson related that they animators waited for Walt to act out the next story, be he never put on a performance like he did with Snow White.
Anderson related the story of that fateful evening to Don Peri:
"One night after we had been doing shorts,Walt gave us sixty-five cents for dinner, and the fifty of us in animation went across the street to Ma Applebaum's.  I got a dinner - most of us did - for fifty cents and saved the fifteen.  Then we came back to the little sound stage.  Ward Kimball and I sat next to one another.  Walt was in a subdued light on the main floor.  At one end of this grotto-like sound stage, there were seven or eight rows of seats baked rather steeply to a projection booth behind and a little screen across.  Then there was just like a dance floor, quite long and narrow, ad the lights didn't completely light this auditorium.  Walt had this whole thing for his stage.  He had thought out and dreamed this whole Snow White business.  We didn't know that.  He spent whatever time we got back from dinner - 6:30, 7:00- until nearly midnight acting and not only describing the plot and the picture, but acting out the individual characters and the parts.  He lit such a fire under those of us who were there that it never occurred to us we were ever going to do anything else in our whole lives except that picture" - Working with Walt pg.135
As art director Anderson worked on the scene where Grumpy's nose comes up over the bed as well as the 'party' at the dwarf's cottage, and the dream sequence that wasn't used.  Dopey's wiggling ears were developed by Anderson based on his own talent to do it too.  He experimented with the mutliplane camera and built a model of the dwarfs' cottage.  Like many of the other guys, Anderson would stay late - until midnight - and on the weekends, working on Snow White.  In fact Anderson felt that Snow White was the best they ever did.
Anderson was promoted to art director on Pinocchio, then production designer on 101 Dalmatians, and character development as well as art director on Jungle book.
In addition, Anderson designed  major portion of Disneyland's Snow White; it was the first attraction he worked on.  The idea was that guests would be Snow White and experience what she experienced.  However, after fifteen years of guests wondering where Snow White was, they made some changes to the attraction.  While working on Story book land, Anderson knew Snow White's cottage needed trees.  The trees they had were 12 feet tall, which in scale, would be 120 feet tall.  So instead Anderson found some redwood trees that were starved because they grew on a rock ledge and not getting the nutrients they need.  Van Damme State Park would not allow the trees to be taken, so in the end they had to find some in a similar place.
He retired in 1978 and continued to consult with Diseny until his death in 1993.  He was honored with a Disney Legend award in 1991.  You can find Ken Anderson's Bait Shop window on main street.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

They Made the Magic: Ted Sears

Ted Sears was born on March 13, 1900 and grew up in New York.  Originally he trained to be a sign painter but he determined he needed to help support the family and went through a string of jobs.  Eventually, Sears joined Max Fliesher's studio and worked on story ideas and even Betty Boop.  In 1931 he signed a contract as a senior writer at the Disney studios - the very first.  There he was a key player in the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs story.  He was one of the strongest members of the writing staff and remained a senior writer for the following 27 years of his career at Disney.  Sears is one of the men attributed to developing the concept of storyboarding, now commonly used among all film makers.  While working on Peter Pan, he even ventured into writing song lyrics. Sears was selected to go on Walt's South American goodwill tour and that was considered a sign that Walt was putting forth his best talent on the trip.
Micahel Barrier posted an article from Funnyworld where Sear's coworker Dick Huemer relates what a fun guy Sears was.  Sears died in 1958.

For additional reading: check out this flicker posting of Christmas cards created by Sears

Friday, March 9, 2012

They Made the Magic: John Lounsbery

Born March 9, 1911, Lounsbery joined the Disney Studios in 1935 as an inbetweener.  His early work included Pluto.  He soon became an assistant to norm Ferguson and helped with the Witch in Snow White.  Lounsbery once said his favorite character was Ben Ali - the dancing alligator in Fantasia.  He also worked on Honest John in Pinocchio: D23 interviewed Andrea Dejas about Lounsbery's contribution in a 2009 article.  For more details about his work and life: read this.  Lounsbery earned the ranking of one Walt Disney's nine old men; that group of animators that played such a key role in the early days of the Walt Disney Studio.
John Lounsbery died on February 13, 1976. Upon his untimely death, he was still giving Disney his all as one of the directors of the animated feature "The Rescuers."  He became a Disney Legend in 1989.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

They Made the Magic: Ward Kimball

Born March 4, 1914, some of Kimball's earliest drawings were of trains, marking the beginning of a life long hobby.  He joined the Disney studio in 1934.  Later met his wife Betty (an ink an paint girl) there.
By 1936 he was the youngest full-fledged animator on staff working on Snow White.  Two of the scenes he worked on were cut: the soup scene and the scene where the dwarfs build a bed.  The soup sequence has the dwarfs singing and slurping up their soup.  The other has the dwarfs carving and creating a beautiful bed as a gift for Snow White.  After seeing the film, Kimball agreed with Walt  that the picture was about 15 minutes too long.  But what do you cut?  In  the end the scenes that were cut  were Kimball's.

Kimball told of how hard it was to see his work disappear: "Well, my next assignment was with Pinocchio.  I felt so, not bitter, but discouraged, because I had worked so hard, and I had only been there 2-3 years.  To have the great Grim Reaper come in and cut out those two sequences was sort of a personal blow.  I took it very personally, even though I tried t look at it in a broader way - it was good for the picture - but I thought maybe there was something wrong with the way I animated.  I actually went into Walt's office to quite.  I decided I was going to New York after all.  As a tribute to his salesmanship, he sensed even before I got to the point where I said, "I don't think  should be working here," he took right off on me with a positive approach: a good defense is a good offense.  He, perhaps, sensed that I felt lousy and why I had come to his office, and he started waxing enthusiastically about Pinocchio.  It was going to be a wonderful picture, and he wanted me personally to take charge of this cricket.  God, he did such a wonderful job that I walked out very happy and said, "What a wonderful place this is!" I told him years later that my intentions were to quit that day, so I had had a real professional snow job done on me." - Walt's People Volume 3

Some of Kimball's work did make it into the final picture: the vultures at the end of the movie, when Snow is running through the woods, and when she wakes up and the animals befriend her were all his work.  The metropolitan Museum of Art wanted some cells from the film and chose the two of the vultures (Kimball felt that was a lack of foresight)
Kimball felt that Snow White, even with it's imperfections, was never matched by any other cartoon in the heart, or believability.  He remembered being at the world premiere and seeing the stars of Hollywood tear up and that audiences continued to have that emotional reaction. According to Kimball, Snow White is a good example of the real secret of Walt: sincerity.
Kimball is well known for his sense of humor.  For one of the wrap parities for Snow White, he hired a guy to come to the party dress as a police officer to harass Walt that the party was too loud.
 Kimball directed two Academy Award-winning short subjects including, "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom," and "It's Tough to Be a Bird." During the 1950s, he produced and directed three one-hour space films for the "Disneyland" television show. The first of his television productions "Man in Space," was given a command performance before President Dwight Eisenhower.  Into the 1960s he worked on "Babes in Toyland" and consulted on theme park projects.
 While at Disney, Ward, a trombone-player, also led several fellow Disney employees in the Dixieland jazz band "Firehouse Five Plus Two." He also restored and operated a full-size locomotive on his two-acre orange grove and was instrumental in sparking Walt Disney's own interest in backyard railroads.
Kimball retired in 1973 and spent time on his hobbies of paintings and railroads.  He died in 2002 in Los Angeles, California at age 88. In 2005.  While Kimball does not have a window on Main Street, but he has something even more unique.  Disneyland's engine number 5 is named Ward Kimball.