November 17, 1907 – Animator, Member of Disney’s Nine Old Men, and Disney Legend Les Clark is Born
“I remember, I was in the Annie Awards ceremony with Les Clark’s widow, and there was a picture of Walt up there with a drawing of Mickey…and she was like [whispering], ‘Les did that drawing.’”- Animation Director John Musker
On November 17, 1907, Les Clark was born in Ogden, Utah. His family moved to Los Angeles, where he graduated high school. During high school, Clark worked a summer job near the Disney Brothers Studio at a lunch counter that Walt and Roy Disney frequented. When Clark asked Walt for a job one day, Walt asked him to bring in his drawings. “He said I had a good line and why don’t I come to work on Monday,” Clark recalled. “I graduated on a Thursday and went to work [the following] Monday.” In 1927, Clark joined the studio, with Disney warning him that it might be just a temporary position. The temporary position began a lifelong career at Disney, and Clark became one of the first members of the Nine Old Men, Disney’s affectionate name for his top animators.
Clark was adept at drawing Mickey Mouse, able to draw a scene in the debut Mickey Mouse film, Steamboat Willie. One of his notable segments in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the scene where the dwarves dance with Snow White. Clark was also responsible for animating and directing on nearly 20 animated features, including Pinocchio, Dumbo, Saludos Amigos, So Dear to My Heart, 101 Dalmatians, Song of the South, Fun and Fancy Free, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp. Clark also contributed to more than 100 shorts. After being the sequence director for Sleeping Beauty, Clark moved to directing television specials and educational films, which included Donald in Mathmagic Land and Donald and the Wheel. Clark retired from the Disney Studios in 1976, and passed away in 1979. He was named a Disney Legend in 1989.