January 28, 1939 – Imagineer and Disney Legend Ralph Kent is Born
“He said he `fell under the spell’ of Disney when he saw Pinocchio, and much of his 41 years at Disneyland and Walt Disney World was involved in various artistic usages of the Disney characters for marketing, merchandising and Imagineering.” – Imagineer and Disney Legend Marty Sklar
On January 28, 1939, Ralph Kent was born in New York. At age 10, he was so enamored with Disney that he created a giant mural of popular Disney characters in his basement. Kent also sent a letter to Walt Disney the same year, as he wanted to work for the Disney Studios. After studying art at the University of Buffalo Albright Art School, he joined the Army in 1960, working on illustrations for military training films. In 1963, Kent achieved his dream of working at Disney when he was hired to work at Disneyland as a marketing production artist, working on marketing materials for several popular attractions. Kent also designed the first set of limited-edition Mickey Mouse watches for adults, which immediately gained popularity. Over his 41 year career with the company, Kent was known as the “Keeper of the Mouse,” as he was one of the handlers for Mickey Mouse, keeping the wholesome image of the character; this title was evident in 1990, when Kent joined the Disney Design Group as a corporate trainer, teaching new artists the proper way of animating the popular characters. Kent retired from Disney in 2004, and was inducted the same year as a Disney Legend. Kent passed away at the age 68 in 2007.