May 24, 2007

Back with a question about Disney's Peter Pan

A page spread from the Golden book of Pater Pan. We had this one in the house when I was a kid, and I was nuts about it. The finished film has scenes that come as close as any in Disney's canon to matching the appeal of the visual development artwork.

Finally back in Los Angeles, and back to work.

Paris is unsurprisingly everything everyone says it is and more. It fills the mind and heart with a burning love for and appreciation of the beauty that is everywhere apparent--and not just in the concrete surroundings.

But right now, it's the interminable plane ride back that has me writing, with a question tossed out to all and sundry--I know someone knows this.

The in-flight entertainment included french and english versions of Disney's 1953 "Peter Pan". Since the flight was over 12 hours long(I'm still recovering)I had several opportunities to watch it in various pieces.
Now I can't get "You Can Fly!" out of my head(thank you, Sammy Fain)--and also would very much like to know:

Who animated the youngest Darling child, Michael?

He really struck me as being particularly solid and well done; even though he has only a supporting role he rings totally true as an about-3-and-a-half year old boy--and is completely charming(to me, anyway). Whoever did that work deserves a hand...Lounsbery perhaps?

I hadn't realized how long it's been since I'd seen the film. For me it has some of the most successful art direction and design of any of the features, if it's not a classic of the order of "Pinocchio" it's still able to inspire delight, in some scenes simply to look at.
And again, here's a Disney animated feature where the credits manage to evoke a sense of wistfulness, grace and anticipation for the story--the credits! This by a combination of absolutely gorgeous paintings, length of shots, choice of shots, and naturally the music score--all perfect.

This reminded me that I've intended for months to do a post about credits--how good they can be, and how frequently they're a missed chance for additional filmmaking in today's cinema, especially in animation.

So, who did animate Michael?


Jason Campbell said...

The audio commentary on the latest release of Peter Pan has Ward Kimball talking about his animating the "kids" specifically he mentions the fat little lost boy. I'm not sure if we can infer by "kids" that he was also responsible for the Darling children but I am sure there is mention on there at some point about Michael and John, but it escapes me right now. It is a treat to listen to, I recommend it.

Anonymous said...

I know that Ward was responsible for The Lost Boys and the Indian Chief and Indian Mother. My guess is that he didn't do much on the Darling children. I got xerox copies of a Michael scene from the Disney Morgue years ago - it's the scene in the forest where he bends over and the Tomahawk goes over his head and hits the tree in front of him. It's a very long scene and really well done. I can't remember 100% for sure but I'm almost positive that the x-sheet said Lounsbery did that scene. I'll see if I can find the scene and double-check who did it.

Anonymous said...


If my memory serves, the last time I had access to the Peter Pan draft at the Disney Animation reference library in Orlando the name that was most often attached to those scenes with Michael was Hal King.

I'm sure that various people may have done a Michael scene here and there (especially in the crowd scenes ; he's noticeably less cute and solid in some of the crowd shots with the Lost Boys) but I'm fairly sure that the key scenes on this character were animated by Hal King.

Michael J. Ruocco said...

I believe Hal King had a part in animating Michael, & he probably animated some of John, too. There's a section in Frank & Ollie's book "Illusion of Life" where they talk about how his Dr. Denton's PJs were similar & possibly adapted from the shape, fluffiness & softness of various Disney bunnies up to that point(Funny Little Bunnies, Snow White, Thumper...).

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember that Hal Ambro did some of the scenes.

Didier Ghez said...

Indeed, according to Dale Oliver in Walt's People - Volume 4: "There was an animator who died some years ago named Hal King who did a lot of Michael and John."

Didier Ghez said...

And Ted Berman seems to be the artist who designed John and Michael, according to another interview in that same volume.

Didier Ghez said...

And finally Berman mentioned that Michael was modeled on Ham Luske's son.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenny...very curious to hear about your adventures in Paris and any recommendations art-wise.

I can't really help out with the Peter Pan animation question, but while I am here I wanted to ask if you have had a chance to see the Bill Tytla book that has come out in the last couple of years. His son makes copies only to order..they are very plainly assembled and not a very glamourous looking "coffee table" sort of thing, but it's 500 pages (thick as a phone book) of memoirs written by Bill's wife...loads of artwork and details about Bill's life up until the rather depressing geriatric end. The thing I wanted to ask you is if you have read thru any of it as there are two pages about Fred Moore, which offer yet ANOTHER story about his death..I think I've at this point read about 4 different versions of what really happened. Microfilm records at the library indicate, as you know, a car crash on Mount Gleason, but this version of his death has nothing to do with that. I'm not sure at this point what to believe, and if there was some cover up or made up story about that car crash being the real reason (if you notice, they actually make a note to indicate "his wife was driving..which makes me suspicious as to why they felt the need to add that detail). Anyway, if you have not read those two pages in the Tytla book I can scan them for you.


Thad said...

FWIW, Hal King and Bob Carlson were the two 'ace' animators on the Donald Duck cartoons which is why they were 'promoted' to feature work.

King also animated much of the White Rabbit in "Alice".


Hans Perk said...

From the draft:

All scenes with Michael in seq 01.0: Hal King. A few reaction shots of all the kids together by Harvey Toombs. Scene of Michael with Father "Don't PAW me, Michael!" by John Lounsbery.

Seq 02.1: Michael by King except the scene where he says "I'm Michael!" - Milt Kahl.

03.0 Flight to Neverland: King (except long shots).

05.0 Arrival in N'land: "Are you hurted, Wendy?" Lounsbery. Rest King.

06.0 Boys marching, Michael with teddy bear: Art Stevens. 3/4 rear: Marvin Woodward. Stuff with indians surrounding others: Michael by Lounsbery.

07.1 tied to totem pole: Judge Whitaker.

10.0 Indian dance: King.

12.0Underground home: dance at start: Woodward. Greeting Peter "How!" and around "Braves no sleep! etc": Bill Justice. Some scenes King.
Michael sleepy & "I wanna see my mother": Kahl.

13.0 "Goodbye, Michael! - Goodbye, Wendy!": Ambro (Wendy) Justice (Michael).

14.0 CU Mike "And Wendy!": King.
Michael struggling in rigging, holding umbrella, & hitting "Turk" with bear: Justice.

15.0 Home, asleep: King.

I believe that is it...

Brian Mitchell said...

Hi Jenny,
I believe that Hal King handled a bunch of the better John and Michael scenes.
King was a top animator back then, who somehow got squeezed out of the Upper tier of Disney Artists. However, King and John Sibley rank very high on my list of top Disney animators.
I also know that King didn't work on those characters exclusively, as I noticed a few scenes that looked to be the work of John Lounsbery.
Someone earlier mentioned that Ward kimball worked on the 'boys' (which I assume means the Lost Boys), however Ward may have animated a few scenes of John and Michael in the "What Makes The Red Man Red" song sequence.

Brian Mitchell

Will Finn said...

I thin Woolie R did a lot of the Lost Boys stuff. Hal King and Ambro did much of Michael, who was indeed modeled on Ham Luske's son. His son died as a young adult in a car accident I seem to recall...the peg board did a piece on him at the time.

Kimball did a lot of the Indian stuff, the Chief in particular; also some linking shots during the end battle. Some forgotten guy did the lovely dancing stuff of Tiger Lily, but i can't track his name down just now... The croc was mostly Jerry Hatchcock and of course Ollie J did Smee, my singlemost favorite Disney character.

Hans Perk said...

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"Oi, I found yours blog for google tá well interesting I liked this post. When to give gives passed for mine blog, is on personalized t-shirts, shows step by step as to create a well personalized t-shirt way. Until more."

Hans Perk said...

Ken O'Brien did the scenes with Pan and Tiger Lily dancing around the drum. Around those scenes, Don Lusk animated Wendy, and Ward Kimball, of course, the Indian Chief...

Whit said...

Jack Miller assisted a lengthy shot of the kids marching, which was animated on pan paper and took him forever to complete.

Anonymous said...

We have that original John Hench illustration here at Disney Publishing. (right across the street, Jenny)

Anyway, John was nice enough to spend a morning with us telling all about this painting technique.

Very cool.

CY said...

Hey, thanks for having a blog like this, Jenny. The names of these gifted animators should be preserved.

I was just watching a clip of the classic song, "What Made the Red Man Red", and I was struck by Tiger Lily's dancing, which was really well done, I thought. I wanted to find who did it, but animators don't get credited. Finally Google brought me to Hans Perk's comment here, giving the credit to Ken O'Brien. Thanks, Hans.

PS- One thing, though: on this site, they are selling a production drawing of Tiger Lily that comes from that scene. It's signed by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Does that mean that they drew some/all of the scene? Or did they just sign the picture afterward?