Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy 102nd, Don!

Don Lusk, the last of the "Snow White" animators, is 102 years old TODAY.

In celebration of another milestone, we rerun this talk we had with Don two years ago:

Cartoon veteran Don Lusk (animator, story man, and director .. from Disney on Hyperion to Hanna-Barbera on Cahuenga) turns turns ten decades old today.

To celebrate, we present you with the Don Lusk 100th birthday interview, which covers his career from Disney in 1933, to Hanna-Barbera in 1993. (Sixty years of work seems to be sufficient, wouldn't you say?) ...

I spoke to Don on the big office speaker-phone in mid-October. He talked about his early days at Walt Disney Productions, his work on "Snow White" and "Pinocchio," about how he walked out with other Disney strikers in 1941, carrying a picket sign until his feet and bank account gave out and he was forced to find other work for eating money.

He has no regrets about hitting the bricks, though it put a good-sized nick in his career at the Mouse House. (He'll be circling back on talking about his work on "Fantasia" and at Hanna-Barbera in Part III of the Interview.) ...

And here's Part II:

After leaving Walt Disney Productions at the start of the 60s, Don worked for Walter Lantz and then Hanna-Barbera. And at H-B he found a long-term professional home, and remained there for thirty-plus years. ...

I asked him whether he preferred Disney or Hanna-Barbera; he told me that he had a much happier time at Joe and Bill's place, because he was better respected and made to feel like "one of the family."

Though he worked on some iconic features at Disney, Don felt he was underpaid and not particularly appreciated. And as he relates, Walt held grudges against many of the employees who went out during the 1941 strike ...which likely explains why Don's post-war Disney career never took off.

As Mr. Lusk says, he was "relieved" when finally let go, and the relief turned out to be well-founded: he had decades of productive work still ahead of him. ...

And (lastly) Part III:

Here in Part III, Don Lusk and I wrap up the first interview and unspool a second, recorded a week later. (I did a wee bit of research after #1, and wanted to find out more about his work at Disney, in particular his animation on Fantasia) ...

Mr. Lusk was not happy with the color work on the whirling, pirouetting fish of "The Nutcracker Suite" (you can listen to what he says about it, I won't spoil it for you here, but allow me to state that Mr. Lusk wanted to "crawl under the theater seat" when he saw the finalized sequence at the premiere.)

Don also discusses his long tenure at Hanna-Barbera, from animation to direction, and what some of his favorite pieces of work are in a sixty-year career.


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