Friday, January 30, 2009

Robert Broughton, RIP

Another of the animation old-timers who was there at the beginning moves on:

Robert C. Broughton, 91, a pioneering camera effects artist for Walt Disney productions who worked on nearly every Disney motion picture from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937 to "The Black Hole" in 1979, died Jan. 19 at a nursing facility in Rochester, Minn., according to his son Dan. Broughton's job was to create spectacular effects in a subtle way, according to a profile on the Disney legends website. By using color traveling matte composite cinematography, Broughton helped Dick Van Dyke dance with animated penguins in the movie "Mary Poppins." He also created the visual effect that made Hayley Mills appear as twins in "The Parent Trap," his son said. And he worked on the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds," providing the visual effects of the fluttering, menacing birds when Hitchcock contracted out the special effects work to Disney.

Born in Berkeley on Sept. 17, 1917, Broughton attended UCLA before starting in the Disney mail room in 1937. He eventually moved into the camera department and quickly graduated to the advanced multiplane camera, which gave depth to animated scenes in such features as "Pinocchio."

During World War II, Broughton was a cameraman in the field photographic branch of the Office of Strategic Services. The unit was headed by director John Ford

Bob lived three doors down from us for years and years, a half-dozen blocks from Disney's Burbank Studio.

He was always a smiling, upbeat guy. When the Mouse House relocated from its Hyperion address to Burbank, Bob's department was one of the first to move. After he hung up the nine-to-five thing, he was active in Disney's retiree group.

Bob took the long, philosophical view of changes at Walt Disney Productions. He was there for many of the studio's ups and downs, and now that he's departed, another witness to movie history is gone.

It was good knowing you, Mr. Broughton. Congratulations on your long and eventful life.


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