Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Art Stevens-A Disney Legend

"Disney Animator Art Stevens Dies at 92
Jul 2, 4:50 PM EST
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Longtime Disney animator Art Stevens, who began his studio career working on "
Fantasia" and went on to co-direct "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Rescuers," has died. He was 92.
Stevens died May 22 at his home in Studio City after a heart attack, Disney spokesman Howard Green said.
Stevens applied for a job at Disney in 1939 after he learned that Walt Disney planned an animated feature based on one of his favorite stories, "Alice in Wonderland," which eventually came out in 1951.
In his early years at Disney, Stewart was an "in-betweener," who created the drawings that made the characters move on the screen after the main animator had outlined the scene. He worked on "Fantasia," "Bambi" and other 1940s features before becoming a full-fledged animator with the 1953 film "Peter Pan."
Among Stevens' other credits as an animator were "101 Dalmatians," "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," "Robin Hood," "Mary Poppins" and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."
He co-directed the 1977 film "The Rescuers" and co-produced and co-directed "The Fox and the Hound," which became Disney's highest-grossing film when it was released in 1981.
Stevens also worked on the Academy Award-winning Disney shorts "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" and "It's Tough to Be a Bird," and he helped animate the title sequences for live-action features such as "Freaky Friday" and "The North Avenue Irregulars."
He retired in 1983.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press."

I met Art Stevens when I worked at Disneyland. He came to the grand opening of Tower of Terror, where I was a "red carpet extra." Art slipped by unnoticed-the crowd was more concerned with the Disney Channel stars and the occasional celebrity. I didn't recognize him either. I knew he was important because he was wearing a suit and a name tag, which all animators and Imagineers did, even if they had retired years ago. Luckily, I hung around to watch the opening gala with some of the other Guest Relations people and one of them introduced me. I nearly keeled over. I probably embarrassed him with all my gushing about Bedknobs and Broomsticks-it's one of my all time favorite movies. He was so polite and tried to lean the conversation away from my fawning, asked me about working at Disneyland and myself. It was nice to meet someone who was so instrumental in shaping the Disney name and history. He was a genuine person and a charming man. I wish I had gotten the opportunity to talk to him at length, ask him about his experiences and ideas. I hope his family is doing well during the tough time. Art managed to touch the lives of people he only met in a brief instance-I can't imagine how he touched those he knew well.