Wednesday, April 22, 2009

M. Kahl

(Milt by Milt. That guy on the left? He's copyrighted by the Disney Co.)

The L.A. Times notes that animator Milt Kahl's centennial is being celebrated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

... [A]mong the veteran Disney animators, Kahl was considered the most accomplished and influential. Characters he brought to life included the animals in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the tiger Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, Peter in Peter Pan, Tramp in Lady and the Tramp and the villainous Madame Medusa in his last film for Disney, The Rescuers. ...

Uh. I think maybe Frank Thomas would have an issue over that "most accomplished" part.

Milt quit Disney before I got there, but I did have a few lunches with him. In retirement, he didn't come off as the fierce fire-breather that studio veterans had described to me, but a guy who was okay with moving on to the next phase of his life and enjoying San Francisco.

And he could also be admiring of other people's drawing skills. When he was down from San Francisco doing character designs for The Black Cauldron, I walked with him as he looked at drawings hanging in the caricature show in the studio library. He came to one of Dan Haskett's drawing, straightened up and said:

"Jesus Christ! This is great! Who the hell drew this?!"

I told him it was a young animator at the studio. Milt said: "Well, he draws like a son of a bitch."

Besides being a tyro top-rank animator (and ... okay ... a little crusty), Milt was an appreciator of talent.


Floyd Norman said...

That’s a great story, Steve.

Lucky you. You saw the older Milt Kahl, when he was mellow and gentle. Those of us who worked for the Disney Master have different stories.

In spite of the fire and brimstone, Milt was a great guy, and we still miss him.

Bobby Pontillas said...

Great story Indeed. I always liked to hear that someone as superb a draftsman as he was , at times became somewhat self-deprecating in the face of an artist like Marc Davis, whom he thought was the superior draftsman.

Thanks to the link to that great Dan Haskett interview too.

Anonymous said...

Oh Well, I think animators often just tend to exaggerate.But that's alright as long as the person they talk about doesn't become a non realistic caricature which sometimes is the case with Milt Kahl. A thing that I noticed in my still young career is that when you're (too) honest about other peoples work you really quickly become a "fierce fire-breather" ;o) However, I would have LOVED to meet this guy !!

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, Brad Bird will be at the lecture. There is no other animator alive that comes CLOSE to being able to convey his importance or talent.

Anonymous said...

It'd be great if Disney's great animator Glen Keane were there talking, too.

Anonymous said...

How does "tyro" apply to Milt Kahl (at the point in time of that story)?

Is there some hidden meaning in that or is it just the completely wrong word?

Steve Hulett said...

No, it's me using the word wrong.

Because ... until two mintues ago ...I was a novice at knowing what tyro meant.

Steve Hulett said...

And another thing: I've got to improve the image up top and get rid of the other drawing bleeding through.

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