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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 KahlFrank ThomasOllie JohnstonLes ClarkJohn LounsberyMarc DavisWard KimballEric LarsonWolfgang Reitherman

Animators: Bill TytlaArt BabbittPreston BlairEd LoveFred MooreShamus CulhaneCy YoungDon LuskNorman FergusonHal KingJack HannahJack KinneyHal AmbroKen O'BrienJudge WhitakerEric CleworthHarvey ToombsBill JusticeDon BluthGary GoldmanDon TowsleyCharles A. NicholsJoshua MeadorDon PattersonBlaine GibsonJohn KennedyJohn EwingWalt StanchfieldFred HellmichAndy Paliwoda
Visual Development, Layout, Background Artists and Character Designers: Gustaf TenggrenMary BlairJoe GrantCampbell GrantMel ShawClaude CoatsDon DaGradiJohn HenchEyvind EarleKen O'ConnorThor PutnamAlbert HurterJohn Hubley
Storyboard Artists and Writers: Ted SearsBill PeetRalph WrightWinston HiblerDick HuemerFloyd Norman
Directors: Clyde GeronimiHamilton LuskeWilfred JacksonBill RobertsJack KinneyBen SharpsteenArt StevensTed BermanRichard RichLeo MatsudaNathan Greno
Producers: Walt DisneyWinston HiblerRon MillerJoe HaleKen Anderson

In the Renaissance, the Present and the Revival
Renaissance Directors: Rob MinkoffRoger AllersGary TrousdaleKirk WiseChris SandersMark DindalJohn Musker

Story Trust Directors: Ron ClementsChris BuckByron HowardDon HallChris WilliamsRich MooreStephen J. Anderson
Producers: Peter Del VechoClark SpencerRoy ConliDorothy McKimDon Hahn
Chief Creative Officer: Jennifer Lee
Associated Figures: Bob IgerRoy Edward DisneyMichael EisnerJohn LasseterEd CatmullJeffrey Katzenberg
Signature Voice Actors: Jim CummingsAlan TudykKatie LowesJohn DiMaggioMaurice LaMarcheDavid Ogden StiersJesse CortiPaul BriggsRaymond S. PersiPhil JohnstonFrank WelkerBill Farmer
Signature Musicians: Sherman Brothers Robert B. Sherman Richard Sherman Alan Menken Kristen Anderson-Lopez Robert LopezLin-Manuel MirandaHoward AshmanTim RiceStephen Schwartz
Supervising Animators: Glen KeaneAndreas DejaRandy HaycockAlex KupershmidtAnthony DeRosaEric GoldbergMark HennJohn PomeroyT. Daniel HofstedtTony BancroftTom BancroftTony FucileRuss EdmondsDuncan MarjoribanksRuben AquinoNik RanieriRon HusbandRick Farmiloe
Visual Development & Storyboard Artists: Dean DeBloisLisa KeeneClaire KeaneBrittney LeeJin KimShiyoon KimCory Loftis

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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.