Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ed Hansen R.I.P.

Ed Hansen, longtime administrator at Disney Animation, passed away December 11. We found out about this a few days ago, but now that I've confirmed Ed's passing from multiple sources, I'm putting something up.

Ed came to the studio in 1952, and worked in the animation department for his entire Disney career. When I first got to know him, he was production manager on the animated features, working under Don Duckwall ...

I always found Ed to be pleasant and straight-forward, first to last a loyal company employee. He ran the department as efficiently as he knew how, working to juggle a lot of disparate egos and personalities.

After Don Duckwall's retirement, the unenviable job of "letting people go" fell to Ed, and he was the one who broke the bad news to any number of Disney employees over the years (me included).

And therein lies a tale.

Ed laid off John Lasseter from Disney in the early eighties. So you could argue, as some have, that Ed was the man who helped put Pixar on the high road to glory when the now-unemployed Lasseter was hired by Ed Catmull to work in bay area at some small shop that nobody had ever heard of.

Near the end of Ron Miller's time as chairman, Ed was promoted to Vice-President of Animation (for a time, he was co-Veep with new Disney employee Peter Schneider). A few years after, Ed retired, going on to a long, happy retirement in Solvang.

Our condolences to Ed's family.

Addendum: A few more factoids about Ed.

Ed started at Disney on February 11, 1952 as an apprentice inbetweener at the age of 26. In June of '52, he became an inbetweener, and in January of '54 a breakdown artist. He began work at an assistant director in July of 1955, a position he held until February, 1972 when he shifted into management.

I don't know the date of his retirement, but I think it was the late eighties ... which would have been a thirty-five or thirty-six year run as a Mouse Houser. Not too shabby.


Anonymous said...

I presume tht IMDb profile is seriously incomplete since it lists his first credit as "assistant director" on Robin Hood. Was he an animator before that? Story?

Floyd Norman said...

Ed was a long time assistant to director, Woolie Reitherman before being promoted into management. Often wondered whether Ed missed his old job.

I used to see Ed on occasion in my visits to my home town of Santa Barbara, and my stops in Solvang. Ed booted me out of Disney in 1972. I never blamed him for my dismissal. The poor guy was simply doing his job.

Somehow, I think Ed was a lot happier when he was running around for Woolie. Hard work, but a less stressful job. I'll miss the guy. Even though I often drew gags about "Fast Eddie" he will be missed.

Steve Hulett said...

As Floyd said, Mr. Hansen was Woolie Reitherman's longtime assistant director (this was before I worked at the studio.)

In the Woolfgang days, an assistant director kept track of voice takes, lived in the editing room working with the editor on up-dated story reels, did all the grunt work that the feature director required.

Ed moved, if my info is correct, into the administration/production managing side of the Disney animation department after Robin Hood.

Pete Emslie said...

I never met the man and didn't really know anything about him, yet his name will always evoke a happy memory for me. I vividly recall that, after writing my first fan letter in 1974 to "Walt Disney Productions" (as it was still happily named back then), not long after having seen "Robin Hood", it was Ed Hansen who was nice enough to respond to me with a very encouraging letter and included a couple neat Disney animation promotional goodies along with it. Ed was my first real contact with the Disney Studio, and I'll always fondly remember him for that

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