Hannah was born January 15, 1913, in Nogales, Arizona. He moved to Los Angeles in 1931 to study at the Art Guild Academy. One of his first jobs was designing movie posters for Hollywood theaters. In 1933, during the Great Depression, Hannah dropped off his portfolio at Walt Disney Studios, and soon afterward was hired as an in-between and clean-up artist, working on Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Silly Symphony cartoons.
Hannah's career as an animator commenced with the short Modern Inventions (released on May 29, 1937). After thirteen films in that capacity, he was assigned to the story department writing cartoon short continuities, beginning with Donald's Nephews (released on April 15, 1938). He received writing credit on 21 Disney cartoon shorts.
In 1942 he collaborated with Carl Barks on the first two comic books Barks worked on, Pluto Saves the Ship and Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold. Hannah in subsequent years did a handful of other Donald Duck comic book stories but, unlike Barks, he stayed at the studio and eventually was given a chance to be a director. The short Donald's Off Day (released on December 8, 1944) was the first of 94 films he would direct. These include most of the shorts featuring Donald Duck in the post-war era along with all starring Chip and Dale and Humphrey the Bear; he also directed some shorts starring Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, and some minor Walt Disney characters.
After Disney stopped producing animated shorts, Hannah did 14 episodes of the Walt Disney anthology television series (composed of footage from the classic cartoons along with new linking material) and fulfilled his ambition to direct live-action by handling Walt Disney's introductions for the episodes. Hannah hoped to segue into a career in live-action but "Walt had me pegged as an animation director so he balked at the suggestion. We had a few heated discussions and I became aware that I had come to an impasse."
Hannah then went to the Walter Lantz Studio and directed a number of films featuring Woody Woodpecker and some minor characters. Besides directing shorts, Hannah also was Assistant Director for the television series The Woody Woodpecker Show, which began airing on October 3, 1957. "I did more or less the same thing that I did with Walt Disney in directing live-action except Lantz was better at taking direction." His last directing effort was the short Charlie's Mother-In-Law (released on April 16, 1963). He retired shortly thereafter.
Hannah was honored as a "Disney Legend" in 1992. Jack Hannah is often credited with developing, if not creating, the personality of the animated version of Donald Duck. It is for this reason Disney historian Jim Korkis has dubbed him "Donald Duck's Other Daddy." Despite that, Hannah has often been noted for being responsible for Donald's most repetitive period when he constantly teamed Donald up with pint-sized vermin, like a little bee named Spike, the wise old Bootle Beetle and Chip 'n' Dale. These characters would become the de facto focus of these shorts, giving Donald much personality loss in these pictures.
Hannah died in Burbank, California on June 11, 1994, at age 81.
- Jack Hannah at the INDUCKS
- Jack Hannah at the Internet Movie Database
- Jack Hannah Remembers Pirate Gold
- Donald Duck's Other Daddy (PART ONE)
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