Mar 21, 2006

Fred Moore-snapshots from life

Fred Moore, early 1940s

For anyone who loves beautiful, expressive and charming drawing, Fred Moore is the best friend we never met. Ever helpful with his examples, always entertaining with his work. His style is about as far from "impersonal" as it's possible to be. Everything's always in the right place in his drawings; there's never a feeling of stiffness, coldness or worry. If that sounds like a lot of anthropomorphizing of some two-dimensional marks on paper--it is. His work was completely alive, and one of the most profound poignancies of the art of animation is the real, breathing life that continues to exist when the artist himself has long ago left the scene.

I had a unique privilege recently, treated to a viewing of some of the most wonderful Fred Moore work--stuff I've never seen published anywhere before. Roughs, studies, caricatures, posed-out scenes that were cut before being finished--all sorts of treasure that must be a small fraction of the life's work of this unique artist. Thanks to the great generosity of animator James Walker, I'm going to start posting as much of it here as I can, from his collection. There are also some more items from my own collection I intend to post, along with excerpts from the interviews I conducted about Fred in the early 1980s.

For now, here's some images you don't see every day: the artist himself. I feel less odd than I otherwise might about posting these personal shots for several reasons. First, simply because he was so seldom seen, as were most of his colleagues at Disney's and elsewhere--and as a matter of pure historic interest I'd love to see off the cuff snapshots of every animation great that ever lived, from Mary Blair to Bill Tytla to Ward Kimball. And there's an added impetus--that of his much, much too early death. The guy was just forty-one. No time to enjoy any public, wider recognition of the kind accorded Kimball, Thomas and Johnston, Chuck Jones, et al. As a result many people are curious about Moore and want to know more about him--something, anything. In that spirit, posting these photographs seems appropriate.

Incidentally, the post that started it all on this blog--my first of any length on Fred Moore--is here: "One sketch--long caption: Fred Moore musings"

Fred about age 17, pre-Disney(barely): a star player on the lightweight basketball team

...and a drawing he did for a classmate that same year; althouth the style is quaintly dated to our eyes, and a far cry from what Fred would become famous for in ten years, the drawing's lines are sure and fluid, and it's obvious he did it effortlessly; there's no underdrawing or hesitiation at all.

Approximately ten years later, clowning in a crib at his home; one of his girl watercolors is on the wall at the rear

And another ten years on; a prematurely aged Moore, an unidentified friend, and animator John Sibley pose at Disney's in the late 40's-1952 period.

All photographs are from the private collection of James Walker, with the exception of the high school class photograph and the sketch, which are from the author's collection.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for posting those . What great photos !
I am looking forward to whatever else you pull out of your Fred Moore treasure chest . Thanks again for sharing.

warren said...

I'm all ears! Looking forward to more about Moore...

Brian Growe said...

Wow, cool! Thanks for this post on Master Moore! I'd love to see all the other things you have show on him too!

Anonymous said...

My teachers always mentioned Freddie in voices tinged with admiration and sadness. It was a different time then, and alcohol was the socially acceptable nervous system depressant of choice. Some paid a high price for it, like poor Freddie.

Jenny Lerew said...

Thanks, guys.
David, Brian and Warren--you're very welcome! I'm thrilled to have been given access to much more material than I personally own to post here. Fred Moore fans are generous folks! I can't wait to put 'em up.
Spock(love writing that name!), yes, too true. Fred's alcoholism ran in his family,as it usually does for people with that problem; for those who were able to booze it up and not succumb, it's more a matter of genetic luck than anything else. That at least is much better understood today. It's likely that his actual death was not directly related to drinking(certainly not to his drinking--he wasn't even the driver of the car he was in), but from the looks of him in the last photo on this page, he was killing himself physically-inadvertently-with alcohol. It's terribly sad, a true tragedy.

Jay D Smith said...

wow, intresting stuff!!

Ward Jenkins said...

What a great post, Jenny. It's a real treat to see photos of the man -- the personal side. There's so little of him out there on the web that he's become this enigma that no one can seem to pin down. Thank you for making it that much easier for us. Looking forward to seeing the rest of yours and James' collection! Big ups to Mr. Walker for sharing with us. Thank you, Jen!

Scott O. said...

These photos are absolutely fantastic! You get kinda used to seeing the same Freddie Moore photos over and over.

It's great to get a glimpse into this guy's life. Thanks!!

Jenny Lerew said...

Thanks, Ward, Jay and Scott: I've been thinking that I don't want to fetishize the man over the work, but I'm sure that people who give a damn about Fred Moore(by which I think we all mean his art, and the resulting affection for him that it engenders) understand that--and it's true--there have been basically the same 3 or 4 publicity photos around for the last 60 years, and that's it. So it was a physical shock to see these pictures--perhaps all the more so as Fred was so often caricatured in 2D form, especially in such an iconic fashion as was shown in the "Nifty Nineties" short.
Thanks for the nice words!

mark kennedy said...

Great stuff, as always, Jenny. Can't wait to see more from your collection.

Sandra Khoo said...

WOW!I can't thank you enough for sharing these wonderful images of Fred.He's been a great inspiration to me and is definitely at the top of my list of favourite animators. His works taught me not to go too into details and technicalities of drawing out the character,but more so towards eyeballing. As long as it looks good,it's good.
Thank you thank you thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great,Moore is my favorite animaton(along with Kimball,Scribner and Art Davis).More You put in your bolg more I'll enjoy.

Lucas Libanio

handel said...

Loved this. Just loved this. Its actually refreshing to hear something about the PEOPLE that create the work and not just the work itself.
I wish to high HEAVEN that SOMEONE would put out a REAL book on these old giants in animation. The real lives of the originators. An in depth bio of all the known greats and the not so known greats.( Tytla,Moore etc).
thanks for a touching bit of posting.