Monday, April 18, 2016

The Animation Guild Golden Award Interview #21 -- Willis Pyle

Willis Pyle, who's brother was known as Denver and uncle was named Ernie, dropped out of the University of Colorado to answer Walt Disney's clarion call to come work at the House of Mouse. Willis arrived at Disney's Hyperion Studio in 1937 as a traffic boy and artist-in-training. Soon promoted to in-betweener and then assistant in Milt Kahl's unit, Willis worked on Pinocchio, Fantasia and finally Bambi before departing for a six-month stint at Walter Lantz's studio.

When World War II broke out, Willis Pyle found himself in the Army Air Corps animation unit, where he worked under Frank Thomas. After de-mobilization, he spent five years at UPA before moving to New York where he had his own small studio called (naturally enough) Willis Pyle Productions. As he neared seventy, he changed careers completely and became a fine arts painter. ...

One would gather, based on the above, that Willis Pyle does not let the grass grow to great heights beneath his feet. And he seems to maintain a sunny outlook on day-to-day existence. Though Willis hit the bricks during the Disney strike of 1941, he has only gratitude and admiration for Disney, who, he says, gave an art education that he's used his whole long life.

You'll find a video of Willis Pyle's 100th birthday bash here.


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