Friday, August 02, 2013

Ron Dias, 1937-2013

Background artist RON DIAS died on July 30 at the age of seventy-six.

Services will be set up sometime in September. For further news, go to his website at

From his website:

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, after graduating high school, he pursued his childhood dream receiving formal art training at The Honolulu Academy of Art and the Famous Artists Schools in Westport, Conn.

In 1956 Ron won a National contest for his design of a U.S. postage "Children's Friendship" stamp. He was given a jet flight to Washington D.C. and a meeting with President Eisenhower, The First Lady, the acting Postmaster General, and Lady Butterfield, who sponsored the contest.

Ron began his animation career with Disney Studios in 1956 where he worked as an inbetweener and clean-up animator on "Sleeping Beauty". Ron's desire to become involved in animation was sparked when, at the tender age of 6, he saw "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". He was so taken by the film and its beautiful art that he decided, then and there, that he would someday become an animation artist. Ron appeared as the guest speaker on Disney animation at the City of Kawaguchi's World Festival, on July 25th, 1998, in Kawaguchi, Japan.

While Ron started his career in animation, he made his mark on this art form and has spent the bulk of his career painting beautiful backgrounds for some of our favorite animated features and TV shows. Over the years Ron has contributed to so many feature and TV projects for so many studios, it is best to highlight a "short-list" of his work through the years. Columbia Pictures, 20th Century-Fox, Warner Brothers Pictures, and M.G.M. Pictures employed Ron's talents between 1958-60.

After the completion of "Sleeping Beauty", the 1960s found Ron illustrating Disney characters for Golden Books and creating backgrounds for some of Hanna-Barbara's most successful series and features, such as "Hey There, it's Yogi Bear"; "Jonny Quest"; "The Man Called Flintstone"; "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". During the 60's, Ron also created backgrounds for DePatie-Freleng's theatrical shorts featuring the Pink Panther, Daffy Duck, and Speedy.

Ron was really busy during the 1970's. In addition to creating backgrounds, his experience and talent lead to positions as character designer, key background artist and art director. He painted backgrounds for, among others, U.P.A.'s "Uncle Sam Magoo"; several educational and commercial films; Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings"; "A Flintstone Christmas"; Chuck Jones' "Return of Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century"; and "Bugs Bunny Busting Out All Over".

During the Disco days of the 1980's, Ron added "Color Stylist" to his resume. We're sure that you appreciated some of Ron's work in Don Bluth's "The Secret of NIMH"; the arcade game "Dragon's Lair" and both the TV special and arcade game "Space Ace"; "The Chipmunk Adventure" and the Toon Town backgrounds in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (Ron was Art Director for the Toon Town backgrounds).

In 1990, Ron was Key Background Artist on "Rover Dangerfield" and in 1992, while freelancing at Disney Art Editions, he became Art Director and Color Stylist for Disney's "Little Mermaid" TV Special and series. In 1993, he became Art Director for Disney Art Editions which produced Disney's limited edition animation cels. In this position, Ron was responsible for selecting the original backgrounds to be reproduced for these cels. However, in the numerous cases where the original was lost or otherwise unavailable, it was Ron's responsibility to painstakingly create a background that was faithful to the original in every detail, Ron has painted over 90 backgrounds for these limited editions. You will see his work on Snow White's "Heigh Ho", "A New Home", and "Snow White At The Wishing Well"; "Bella Notte"; "Peter's Seamstress" "Sleeping Beauty", and the new "Dream Duet" sericel as well as countless others. In 1987, Ron created for the One Stop Poster Co., a special poster promoting "Snow White's" 50th Anniversary and also a poster for "Beauty and the Beast". Through Creative Capers, a Disney subsidary, Ron also creates the art for Disney's interactive CD-ROMs. Although Ron has contributed his talents to virtually every major studio over the past 45 years, because of his love for Disney, he has maintained a continuous relationship with the studio as a freelance artist even while working elsewhere.

Ron spent the millennium working on fine art paintings during his free time. Being the perfectionist that he is, he is not satisfied until his works exhibit the same subtle "magic" that shows through in all of his animation work. Ron and Howard retired to the peninsula in 1999 but stayed active in the community and art world. He had several art shows in the area. He was an advocate for "art" in the school system.

He was presented with the Life Time Achievement award in 2010 (Champion of the Art). Ron felt privileged to share and influence generations with his art. He will be sorely missed by all.

Ron died peacefully at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula with his partner of 35 years, Howard, and his son, Stephen, by his side. Ron is survived by his partner Howard, his sons Greg (Patti), Stephen, grandchildren Adam, Brandon and Carmen.


wayne said...

Only discovered the creative genius of Ron Dias within last year. After seeing his credits in numerous Hanna Barbera cartoons of mid 60's, intrigued I Googled his name and was excited to find he was still alive and well and had a website. Been fan every since. I was so taken with his work and his experience having worked at Disney, HB, DFE and bunch of others, I emailed Steve Hullett and suggested Mr. Dias would be excellent subject for an TAG interview. Unfortunately, this did not come to pass.

RIP Ron, you were one of the great animation artists.

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