April 26, 1916 – Artist and Illustrator Eyvind Earle is Born
“Eyvind had done something that Walt loved on Lady and the Tramp: Walt wanted Eyvind to paint one background where when you saw that small American town, you wanted to live there forever. But if you looked up to the horizon, you saw adventure, and you wanted to get out of town.” – Animation historian John Culhane
On April 26, 1916, artist and illustrator Eyvind Earle was born in New York. As a child, his family moved to California, and at one point, his parents divorced. As a child, Earle suffered from polio, which killed his brother and paralyzed part of his face. At one point, Earle’s father gave him a command: every day, paint a picture and read fifty pages of a book. His father took him on a tour of Europe for three years, though the experience was less than ideal, as his father was a difficult man who beat his son. After three years, he headed back to his mother back in California. Although he didn’t want to paint anymore, he discovered he actually had a talent for it, and continued to do so during the Great Depression. In 1951, Earle was hired as an assistant background painter at the Disney Studios, with his first assignment being The Little House. He continued to work on animated features and short films, notably Melody and Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom with Ward Kimball. When working on Sleeping Beauty, he worked on all the key backgrounds for the film, with many of the animators praising his work and sneaking up to see his paint in his office. To this day, Earle’s backgrounds have been praised for providing an unforgettable look to the film. In 1966, Earle left Disney and returned to painting full time. He was honored with a Winsor McCay Award in 1998 for a lifetime of achievement in the art of animation. He passed away in 2001.