September 4, 1919 – Animator, Imagineer, and Disney Legend X Atencio is Born
“I didn’t even know I could write music, but somehow Walt did. He tapped my hidden talents.”
On September 4, 1919, Francis Xavier “X” Atencio was born in Walsenburg, Colorado. He moved to Los Angeles in 1937 to attend the Chouinard Art Institute, which hosted classes for several Disney artists. At the urging of his instructors, he submitted his portfolio to the Studio, and in 1938 Atencio was hired by Disney as an artist. He quickly rose within the company, becoming an assistant animator in three years. When World War II broke, he served in the United States Army and was stationed in England as a photo interpreter. He came back to the studio in 1945 to work on several animated short films. In 1953, he received his first credit for the Academy Award Winning short film Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. He also lent his talents to the likes of Jack and Old Mac, Noah’s Ark, and the stop motion animated sequences in The Parent Trap and Mary Poppins. In 1965, Atencio switched gears and was asked by Walt to assist in the creation of the Primeval World diorama within WED Enterprises. He continued to work as an Imagineer, bringing his unique talents to several attractions, including penning the unforgettable songs for The Haunted Mansion (co-writing “Grim Grinning Ghosts”) and Pirates of the Caribbean (writing “A Pirate’s Life for Me”). Atencio assisted with several attractions in Walt Disney World, and traveled to Tokyo Disneyland to assist with the recordings for the Haunted Mansion. In 1984, after nearly fifty years with the company, Atencio retired. For his prolific work, he was honored as a Disney Legend in 1996.