Thursday, July 07, 2016

Animation Guild Golden Award Interviews #31* -- Hal Ambro and Lee Blair

Hal Ambro and Lee Blair were a bit higher profile than Morey Zukor and Al Bertino, profiled here on Monday. They're reasonably famous names to animation enthusiasts, but not to a lot of other people.

Back in the seventies, old timers at Disney Feature told me what a crackerjack artist and animator Hal Ambro was. But Hal, though he started in animation in the first half of the 1930s, arrived at Disney in 1939 (some sources say '46), after all the supervisory slots had been filled, and none of the top guys -- later known as "the Nine Old Men" -- were pre-disposed to vacate them in favor of a newcomer. (Funny how that works).

Mr. Ambro was an animation work-horse at Disney for twenty years, after which he animated for Chuck Jones and put in a stretch of time at Hanna-Barbera, working on three different features (Heidi's Song, Charlotte's Web, Rock Odyssey). He taught the arto of animation at the California Institute of the Arts starting in 1983, and passed away in 1990.

Lee Blair, brother of Preston and husband of Mary, led multiple artistic lives. He was an animator (and proud of it), he was a color designer, and he was a creator of fine art, principally watercolor landscapes.

Mr. Blair does a pretty thorough job directly above, thumb-nailing his life and career in animation. He served in the Navy the Second World War making training films, then after de-mobilization opened Film-TV Graphics in New York, which produced commercials and industrial films. He wrapped up his long career teaching and painting fine art in Northern California. Lee Blair died in 1993.

* In point of fact, these interviews appeared on Cartoon Research before the interviews we put up a few days ago, but yours truly is just getting around to installing them here, for which apologies.


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