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Tag Archives: Producer

September 17

September 17, 2004 – Eleven New Inductees are Named Disney Legends

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“We owe so much to this group that represents the best of Disney – their work is the arc that connects Disney’s history with our success today.”

On September 17, 2004, the newest group of Disney Legends were honored at a special ceremony at the Disney Legends Plaza at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. The ceremonies were presided over by then CEO Michael Eisner, who originally created the honor in 1987. The honorees that were present participated in the handprint ceremony, with their handprints then hung in the plaza for all to see. Among those honored were film and television producer Bill Anderson, actor Tim Conway, Imagineer Rolly Crump, Imagineer Alice Davis, actress Karen Dotrice, actor Matthew Garber, ABC Chairman of the Board Leonard Goldenson, Imagineer Bob Gurr, conductor and orchestrator Irwin Kostal, Imagineer Ralph Kent, and animator and story man Mel Shaw.

April 25

April 25, 1953 – Animator, Director, Producer, and Screenwriter Ron Clements is Born

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“I think John [Musker] and Ron [Clements] are really great storytellers. They understood the essence of a great Disney animated movie.” – Jeffrey Katzenberg

On April 25, 1953, Ronald Francis Clements was born in Sioux City, Iowa. He began his animation career at Hanna-Barbera; soon after starting there, he was accepted into the Disney Talent Development Program, working under legendary animator Frank Thomas. He began full employment at Disney in 1977, working as a character animator on the films The Rescuers and Pete’s Dragon. Clements would then become the animation supervisor on the 1981 film The Fox and Hound, with future collaborator John Musker working under him as a character animator. Clements and Musker would then pair up as story artists on the film The Black Cauldron in 1985. In 1986, the two would make their directorial debut on the film The Great Mouse Detective.

In 1985, there was what was called a “gong” show, which was a way to call for story ideas from the staff. Clements brought forth the idea The Little Mermaid, writing a two page treatment for the story. At first, Clements’ idea was “gonged” because a sequel to the hit film Splash was in development, but the next day, Jeffrey Katzenberg told Clements that he liked the treatment, and the studio was willing to go forward and create the film. Clements and Musker then wrote and directed The Little Mermaid, which became a huge success for the studio, revitalizing the animation department. Clements and Musker would repeat their success in 1992 with Aladdin, which they both wrote, directed, and produced. The two would then direct the modest success Hercules in 1997. In 2002, the pair directed Treasure Planet, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but it was a commercial failure. The two were reunited as directors for the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog.

April 17

April 17, 1933 – Former President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Ron W. Miller is Born

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“I’m really very proud of having been a professional athlete. I think it teaches you to be competitive, to accept challenges, and to see things through.”

On April 17, 1933, Ronald William Miller was born in California. He attended the University of Southern California, lettering in football. It was there where he met Diane Disney, daughter of Walt, on a blind date. The two married in a small church ceremony on May 9, 1954. Soon ­after the wedding, Miller was drafted into the Army, but on his return, he played with the Los Angeles Rams as a tight end. During one game, when Walt was watching from the stands, Miller was hit hard enough to be knocked unconscious. Worried about the danger of the sport and his grandchildren, Disney offered Miller a job, which Miller accepted. He joined the company in 1957, with his first assignment as a second assistant on the 1957 film Old Yeller. He would soon move to the role of associate producer for Bon Voyage, Summer Magic, Moon Pilot, and A Tiger Walks. After this, he moved up to the role of co-producer on such films as The Monkey’s Uncle, That Darn Cat!, and Monkeys, Go Home! Miller had his first full producer credit on the 1968 film Never a Dull Moment, and served as an executive producer for 12 years. In 1980, Miller was elected president of the Walt Disney Company, and was also named CEO in 1983. During his term, the Touchstone label was created, with its first film being the hit Splash; Miller was also responsible for creating The Disney Channel and initiating the studio’s first attempts at computer animation, thanks to the film Tron. Unfortunately, Miller’s tenure was rife with corporate takeover attempts, and in 1984, Miller was ousted in favor of Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. He now spends his days at the Silverado Vineyards Winery, building its reputation.

January 3

January 3, 1916 – Artist, Director, and Producer Louis “Lou” Debney is Born

Louis Debney as the associate producer for an episode of the Wonderful World of Color

Lou Debney as the associate producer for an episode of the Wonderful World of Color

“I stayed with the Cutting Department…it was then, while we were getting started on the preliminary story sketches and everything…that I was set up to be the man that would assemble all the tests from all the sequences in Snow White.”

On January 3, 1916, Louis Debney was born in Los Angeles, California. At the age of 18, Debney was hired by Disney to work in the Cutting Department, then located at the Hyperion Studio. Debney then became an assistant director on the first full-length feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with Ben Sharpsteen. With Sharpsteen’s assistance, Debney worked on the last black and white short film, Two-Gun Mickey, released in 1934. Debney continued to assist in directing several features and short films before becoming a producer for The Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro, and a production coordinator on the Disney anthology series, including The Wonderful World of Disney. Debney passed away at the age of 70 on April 11, 1986.

November 4

November 4, 1895 – Director, Producer, and Disney Legend Ben Sharpsteen is Born

“Concerning Ben Sharpsteen and his contributions to the development of the Disney organization, I want to say he played a very important part.” – Walt Disney

On November 4, 1895, Ben Sharpsteen was born in Tacoma, Washington, and was raised in Alameda, California. Sharpsteen attended the University of California at Davis to study agriculture, and joined the Marines in 1917 to serve during WWI. After the war, Sharpsteen worked at various studios as an animator, including Paramount, Jefferson Films, and Max Fleischer Studios. After his work was recommended to Disney, Sharpsteen flew from New York to Los Angeles; he was hired and paid one of the highest salaries in the studio, higher even than Disney’s top animator, Ub Iwerks.

For his first six years at Disney, Sharpsteen contributed animation on 97 Mickey Mouse short films and several Silly Symphonies. In 1933, Sharpsteen also established an animation training program within the studio, and began to recruit talented artists. In 1934, he moved to directing on the short films, which led to his role as a sequence director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He then became a supervising co-director on Pinocchio, and a production supervisor on Fantasia, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland. In the 1950s, Sharpsteen worked on several of the True-Life Adventure series, even presenting the series on television on the first episode of the Disney anthology series Disneyland. After working with the Disney Studios for 33 years, he retired in 1962, and passed away on December 20, 1980. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1998.