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January 24

January 24, 1906 – Animator, Director, and Disney Legend Wilfred Jackson is Born

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“Jackson was easily the most creative of directors, but he was also the most ‘picky’ and took a lot of kidding about his thoroughness.” – Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

On January 24, 1906, Wilfred Jackson was born in Chicago, Illinois. After attending the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, he went to the Walt Disney Studios to ask for a job; although not officially hired by the Studio, he washed cels and assisted the animators. Jackson rose quickly through the studio ranks, and shortly after he arrived in the animation department, he created the method of synchronizing sound to the animation for the Mickey Mouse short film Steamboat Willie. It would take rival studios over a year to figure out how the trick was done. Jackson would go on to direct 35 short films, with three winning Academy Awards; he would also help direct segments of animated feature films, including the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment in Fantasia. As Disney entered television, Jackson moved into the new medium, directing 13 episodes of the Walt Disney anthology series. In 1965, Jackson retired from the Disney Studios. He passed away on August 7, 1988. In 1998, Jackson was honored as a Disney Legend in the field of animation.

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