Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nov 17: Birth of an "Old Man"

On this day in 1907, animator Les Clark the first of Disney's "Nine Old Men" to be hired, was born Leslie James Clark in Ogden, Utah. (Disney's "Nine Old Men" were a core group of animators who created the studio's most famous work.)
Supposedly it all started when Walt Disney complimented a teenage Clark on the lettering he made for the menus on the mirrors of the candy/ice cream shop he worked at. Two years later in 1927, about to graduate from high school, Clark got up the nerve to ask Mr. Disney for a job. "Bring some of your drawings in and let's see what they look like," was Walt's response.
Walt must have liked what he saw because only 4 days after graduating from high school Les began working at Disney's Hyperion studio! Walt warned Clark that "it might just be a temporary job." Well, by the time he retired, Les Clark was a senior animator and director, and the "longest continuously employed member of Walt Disney Productions" - he began with Disney on February 23, 1927 and retired on September 30, 1975!
Clark's large body of work includes early Alice Comedies, Steamboat Willie, The Skeleton Dance, Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, So Dear to My Heart, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and TV's Mickey Mouse Disco.
Les Clark was named a Disney Legend in 1989.

Click HERE for more November 17 Disney history.

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