Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Disney Days of Yore (like 1983)

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Let us journey back (again) to Walt Disney Productions, before Eisner and Katzenberg grabbed the corporate reins from Ron Miller and turned it into the behemoth we all know and love today. Before it was high tech, high-powered, and thick with "production support" staff.

The shot above is Ron Clements, Peter Young and moi, working on Basil of Baker Street in early 1983, in the original Disney animation building in Burbank, CA. (I had hair then...)

Ron Clements had recently stopped animating and plunged into animation story work. (He and John Musker were still years away from teaming up on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and all the rest.) Pete was a talented story artist on an upward trajectory. Two years after this picture, he pitched "Oliver Twist with dogs" to Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who greenlit it. Oliver and Co. would become the first animated feature of the Eisner-Katzenberg era.

But Pete wouldn't live to see it released. He died in the Fall of 1985, at age 37.

Ron, of course, went onto fame and fortune. Me, I got into union repping in a big way.

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And these two fresh-faced tykes are Joe Ranft and Tim Burton. In '83 they were relative Disney new-comers, straight from Cal Arts. They're standing outside the old animation building.

Tim seems to have a bleeding problem with his mouth. Joe appears to be enjoying life (but he always did. He had a buoyant sense of humor and bright disposition, even as a newbie.)

Tim was toiling away in the animation department then, creating dark, eccentric characters that Disney management didn't know what to do with. He left a couple of years later after doing some live-action shorts. (Hope he's doing okay, wherever he is.)

Joe was edging into the story department. He went on to a long, rich animation career at Disney, then Pixar. Like Pete Young, he left the world way too early.

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And here's another shot of Pete and Ron, in Pete's office on the second floor of the old Disney animation building.

(Photos courtesy of Randy Cartwright)


Anonymous said...

Great pictures Steve, you make me feel sad.
I’d like to see the new Burton-Disney movie soon.

Brendon said...

New Burton-Disney movie? What new Burton-Disney movie?

Tyson said...

There has been a lot of talking how Disney has lost its charm and those new cartoons are not nearly as good as the old ones but I'm sure our grandchildren will say something like 'oh, those awesome disney films of the 2000s'

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