Born in Alabama, King began his animation career in the silent era in 1920 working at Bray Productions animation studio. King successfully made the transformation from silent to sound cartoons and relocated to the west coast where he joined the Disney studio in 1929.
In 1933, he moved to the newly formed Leon Schlesinger Productions which made Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies for Warner Bros., initially working as an animator under director Earl Duvall. A year later, Duvall was fired in the wake of an alcohol-fuelled argument with Schlesinger, and King was promoted to director, handling many of the studio's cartoons starring Buddy.
After two years working at the Schlesinger studio, King was invited back to Disney, and he returned there in late 1936. Part of the reason why he went back to Disney was the promise that he would be able to direct cartoons in color, which he had been unable to do previously (Friz Freleng and Tex Avery were the only directors that Schlesinger allowed to use color for much of the 1930s). Serving as one of Disney's key animation directors, he directed many classic Donald Duck cartoons (such as Donald's Dilemma) until his retirement in 1948.
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