Retired TAG staffer Jeff Massie let us know that Willis Pyle, veteran animator, fine artist, and one of the last of the pre-war Disney animators, has passed away at 101 years of age. Jerry Beck writes:
... [M]aster animator Willis Pyle has passed away. He would’ve been 102 years old upon his next birthday.
Born in 1914, Pyle began his career at the Disney studio in 1937 as a office boy, delivering supplies to the animators. He began drawing for the studio on Pinocchio (1940), as Milt Kahl’s assistant. He also worked on Fantasia and Bambi before leaving the studio to work for Walter Lantz, and then with the First Motion Picture Unit during World War II. Pyle joined UPA after the war animating on Mr. Magoo, and on films such as Gerald McBoing Boing. Moving to New York in the 1950s, Pyle became a successful freelance animator and working on dozens of commercials for studios on both coasts. Further credits included Richard Williams feature Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977); DePatie Freleng’s TV Special Halloween Is Grinch Night; Murakami-Wolf’s The Mouse and His Child (1978); numerous Charlie Brown specials and his animation of the classic 1966 CBS “Season’s Greetings” spot designed by R.O. Blechman. ...
There are almost no Disney pre-World War II animators left, here in the second decade of the 21st century. Don Lusk, who assisted and animated on Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia is still with us, but he is ... so far as I know ... the lone survivor from the First Golden Age of animation.