September 3, 1905 – Eric Larson, Disney Legend and Member of Disney’s Nine Old Men, is Born
“No one was more concerned with passing on the Disney legacy than Eric.” – Animator Andreas Deja
On September 3, 1905, animator Eric Larson was born in Cleveland, Utah. After graduating with a journalism major from the University of Utah, he traveled to Los Angeles in 1933, and worked on a radio program called “The Trail of the Viking.” At the same time, he sent some sketches to the Walt Disney Studios, and was soon hired as an assistant animator. He worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (the “Whistle While You Work” segment), Pinocchio (Figaro), Fantasia (“The Pastoral Symphony”), Dumbo, Bambi (the title character), Cinderella (Cinderella and Prince Charming), Alice in Wonderland (Alice, Dinah, The Cheshire Cat, The Caterpillar, The Queen of Hearts, and the Flamingo), Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp (Peg and the pound puppies), Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians (Pongo, Perdita, Colonel, and Tibbs), and The Jungle Book (the Vultures), as well as several shorts, including The Three Little Pigs.
In the 1970s, Larson helped start a recruitment training program to teach a new generation of animators the Disney style of animation. Many famous names went through this program, including Brad Bird, Don Bluth, Tim Burton, Andreas Deja, Mark Henn, Glen Keane, John Lasseter, Burny Mattinson, and Joe Ranft. This program came at a crucial time when the older animators were retiring, and new blood was needed to help revive the studios. Larson continued to contribute to projects at the studio during the 1980s, and retired in 1986, after working for Disney for 52 years. Larson passed away on October 25, 1988, and was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1989.