Tuesday, June 26, 2012

They Made the Magic: Wolfgang Reitherman

Known as Woolie, Reitherman was born in Munich, Germany on June 26, 1909.  By 1911, the family moved to Kansas City and then on to Sierra Madre, California.
As a child, he wanted to be a pilot and did fly all his life.  His career with Disney began in 1933 after training at Chouinard Art Institute.  He worked on Silly Symphonies and a few some Mickey cartoons. He rose quickly through the ranks working on the well loved Clock Cleaners and Hawaiian Holidays Mickey shorts.
On Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Reitherman drew the Magic Mirror.  He also helped work on the bed-building sequence which was not used.  He attributes a lot to Ham Luske for working on Snow White and getting the best out of the model.  Reitherman also credits Luske with figureing out interesting things to do with Snow White, like having her put her hands on her knees.  Reitherman related that naming each of the dwarfs and having the personalities consistent really made the film stand out.  
His career continued working on Monstro in Pinocchio, Goofy for several How To cartoons, Timothy in Dumbo, and appears in person in The Reluctant Dragon.  He was part of the South American good will tour know as Walt and El Groupo.
He left Disney in 1941 to join the army and returned to Disney after the war.  His career continued on and eventually he began directing.  Other animators noted that Reitherman was a strong leader after Walt's passing.  
He retired in 1981, passed away in 1985, and became in Disney Legend in 1989.

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