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September 17

September 17, 1917 – Visual Effects Coordinator and Disney Legend Bob Broughton is Born

Bob Broughton

“If it looked like we doctored up a scene, we were a failure. Our effects weren’t supposed to be obvious.”

On September 17, 1917, Robert Broughton was born in Berkeley, California. A man of many talents, Broughton studied chemistry, physics, math, and optics at the University of California at Los Angeles. He joined the Disney Studios in 1937 in the mailroom, and quickly found his way to the camera department where his first major assignment was to shoot the test camera for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; his job ensured that the animated scenes flowed smoothly before the final production shot. Broughton was then moved to the multiplane camera, becoming one of only two operators for the complex machine. After moving to the special photographic effects department and assisting with the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment, Broughton found himself promoted to camera department supervisor. His work with the studio was interrupted by World War II, where he served in the Army as a cameraman for the Office of Strategic Services. His skills were used on an Oscar Award winning film about the Battle of Midway, and after the war, he returned to Disney to assist fellow Disney Legend Ub Iwerks. Broughton’s technical wizardry created magical effects for several animated and live-action films, and even for the Disney Anthology series. He continued to work on films until his retirement in 1982, and remained involved with the company through the Golden Ears Retirement Club for fifteen years. He was honored for his work in Disney film in 2001. In 2009, Broughton passed away at the age of 91.

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