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Les Clark

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Walt-Disney-Animators-Les-Clark-walt-disney-characters-22959712-648-773
Les Clark (November 17, 1907 - September 12, 1979) was the first of Disney's Nine Old Men. Joining Disney in 1927, he was the only one to work on the origins of Mickey Mouse with Ub Iwerks.

Working with Disney

Walt Disney complimented Les on the lettering he made for the menus on the mirrors at the candy store. Two years later in 1927, about to graduate from Venice High School, Clark got up the nerve to ask Walt for a job. "Bring some of your drawings in and let's see what they look like," he recalled Walt saying. At the Hyperion studio in the Silver Lake area east of Hollywood, Clark showed his samples, which he admitted were freehand copies of cartoons in College Humor. Walt admired his "swift, deft" graphic line and hired him. Clark graduated from high school on a Thursday and jubilantly reported to work the following Monday, February 23, 1927 though Walt warned him "it might just be a temporary job." The "temporary" job lasted nearly half a century.

By the time he retired in 1975, Les Clark was a senior animator and director, and the "longest continuously employed member of Walt Disney Productions." Disney's job offer changed Clark's life. Throughout his lengthy career he repaid Walt with loyalty and a dogged striving to improve his work. In return, he gained a knowledge of the animation business from the ground up. During Clark's first year at the studio, he happily toiled in the industry's lowest entry-level positions: for his first six months he operated the animation camera, then spent a subsequent six months as an inker-painter. That is, he traced hundreds of animation drawings onto sheets of clear celluloid acetate ("cels") in ink with a crow-quill pen and painted them on the reverse side with opaque colors (black, white, and gray only, in those pre-Technicolor days). Clark entered animation at a pivotal time and participated in events that shaped not only Disney's future but the history of the art form itself. When he arrived, the Alice Comedies were winding down and a series starring a new character named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was beginning. Ub Iwerks, who became Clark's mentor, was the studio's top animator, capable of turning out large numbers of cleverly animated drawings each day.

Animation

Ub Iwerks animated Steamboat Willie at his usual breakneck speed (it was completed in two months), Clark assisted by in-betweening drawings, and Wilfred Jackson animated a brief scene of Minnie Mouse running along a riverbank. To handle the increased production load, Walt began recruiting experienced New York animators; Ben Sharpsteen, Burt Gillett, Jack King, and Norman Ferguson ("Fergy") who arrived at the studio between March and August 1929. Les Clark's debut as an animator came in the first Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance (delivered on May 10, 1929): a scene of a skeleton playing the ribs of a bony buddy like a xylophone.

Clark's draftsmanship and versatility as a personality animator developed way beyond what Ub Iwerks was capable of but echoes of the magical, cartoony Iwerks always remained in Clark's work. A charming example is the little train to Baia in The Three Caballeros (1945), chugging and puffing on crayon rails to a bouncy samba beat through stylized jungle landscapes.

Gallery


v - e - d
Walt Disney Animation Studios - Transparent Logo
In the Past

Disney's Nine Old Men: Milt Kahl | Frank Thomas | Ollie Johnston | Les Clark | John Lounsbery | Marc Davis | Ward Kimball | Eric Larson | Wolfgang Reitherman

Animators: Bill Tytla | Art Babbitt | Preston Blair | Ed Love | Fred Moore | Shamus Culhane | Cy Young | Don Lusk | Norman Ferguson | Hal King | Jack Hannah | Jack Kinney | Cliff Nordberg | Bob Carlson | Hal Ambro | Ken O'Brien | Judge Whitaker | Eric Cleworth | Harvey Toombs | Marvin Woodward | Bill Justice | Jerry Hathcock | Hugh Fraser | Clair Weeks | Don Bluth | Gary Goldman | Berny Wolf | Don Towsley | Norman Tate | John Bradbury | Lynn Karp | Charles A. Nichols | Art Palmer | Joshua Meador | Don Tobin | Robert Martsch | George Rowley | John McManus | Don Patterson | John Elliotte | Phil Duncan | George Kreisel | John Freeman | Jack Campbell | Ed Aardal | Blaine Gibson | Ken Hultgren | Fred Kopietz | George Nicholas | Bob Youngquist | John Kennedy | Henry Tanous | Dick Lucas | John Sibley | John Ewing | Walt Stanchfield | Fred Hellmich | Blaine Gibson | Julius Svendsen | Bill Keil | Andy Paliwoda
Visual Development, Layout, Background Artists and Character Designers: Gustaf Tenggren | Mary Blair | David Hall | Joe Grant | Campbell Grant | Mel Shaw | Claude Coats | Don DaGradi | John Hench | Art Riley | Eyvind Earle | Thelma Witmer | Al Dempster | Dick Anthony | Don Griffith | Ralph Hulett | Ray Huffine | Art Landy | Brice Mack | Al Zinnen | Ken O'Connor | Charles Philippi | McLaren Stewart | Tom Codrick | Hugh Hennesy | Lance Nolley | Thor Putnam | Albert Hurter | John Miller | Martin Provensen | John Walbridge | Dick Kelsey | Kay Nielsen | Terrell Stapp | John Hubley | Merle Cox | Ray Huffine | Mac Stewart | Jimi Trout | Basil Davidovich | Jack Hubler | Erni Nordli | Victor Haboush | Homer Jonas | Ray Aragon | Frank Artimage | Walt Peregoy | Bill Layne | Fil Mottola | Richard H. Thomas | Dale Barnhart | Anthony Rizzo | Sylvia Roemer
Storyboard Artists and Writers: Ted Sears | Bill Peet | Ralph Wright | Erdman Penner | Winston Hibler | Joe Rinaldi | Milt Banta | Bill Cottrell | Webb Smith | Aurelius Battaglia | Otto Englander | Joseph Sabo | Dick Huemer | Tom Oreb | Del Connell | Floyd Norman
Directors: Clyde Geronimi | Hamilton Luske | Wilfred Jackson | Bill Roberts | Jack Kinney | Ben Sharpsteen | Art Stevens | Ted Berman | Richard Rich
Producers: Walt Disney | Winston Hibler | Ron Miller | Joe Hale | Ken Anderson

In the Renaissance, the Present and the Revival

Renaissance Directors: Rob Minkoff | Roger Allers | Gary Trousdale | Kirk Wise | Chris Sanders | Mark Dindal
Story Trust Directors: Ron Clements | John Musker | Chris Buck | Byron Howard | Don Hall | Chris Williams | Rich Moore | Stephen J. Anderson | Nathan Greno | Jennifer Lee
Producers: Peter Del Vecho | Clark Spencer | Roy Conli | Dorothy McKim | Don Hahn
Executive Producers: John Lasseter
Associated Figures: Bob Iger | Roy Edward Disney | Michael Eisner | Ed Catmull | Jeffrey Katzenberg
Signature Voice Actors: Jim Cummings | Alan Tudyk | Katie Lowes | Maurice LaMarche | David Ogden Stiers | Jesse Corti | Paul Briggs | Raymond S. Persi | Phil Johnston | Frank Welker | Bill Farmer
Signature Musicians: Sherman Brothers | Robert B. Sherman | Richard Sherman | Alan Menken | Kristen Anderson-Lopez | Robert Lopez | Lin-Manuel Miranda | Howard Ashman | Tim Rice
Supervising Animators: Glen Keane | Andreas Deja | Randy Haycock | Alex Kupershmidt | Anthony DeRosa | Eric Goldberg | Mark Henn | John Pomeroy | T. Daniel Hofstedt | Tony Bancroft | Tom Bancroft | Tony Fucile | Russ Edmonds | Duncan Marjoribanks | Ruben Aquino | Nik Ranieri | Ron Husband | Rick Farmiloe
Visual Development & Storyboard Artists: Paul Felix | Andy Gaskill | Dean DeBlois | Lorna Cook | Bill Schwab | Lisa Keene | Claire Keane | Chen Yi-Chang | Vance Gerry | Brittney Lee | Jin Kim | Shiyoon Kim | Cory Loftis | Leo Matsuda

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The article or pieces of the original article was at Les Clark. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Disney Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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