Monday, February 1, 2010

February 01: Awarded This Day

On this day in 2003, the Winsor McCay Award - given to individuals for a lifetime of achievement in animation - was awarded during the 30th Annual Annie Awards (honoring work for the year 2002) at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California. First established in 1972 (and given every year since), it is named in honor of pioneer animator Winsor McCay (pictured left) - best known for creating the newspaper comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland and the cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur.
The recipients of the Winsor McCay on this day were Gene Hazelton, Floyd Norman, and the Sherman Brothers.

Animator and artist of newspaper comics, Gene Hazelton was hired by the Walt Disney Studios in 1939. He first worked on character designs for Wind in the Willows and later animated cherubs for Fantasia and the boys in the Pleasure Island sequence of Pinocchio. Following the 1941 labor strike at Disney, Hazelton went to work for Warner Brothers which in turn led to work at MGM and Hanna-Barbera (where he first oversaw the creation of the comic strips based on The Flintstones and Yogi Bear). While at Hanna-Barbera, he also created Pebbles and Bamm Bamm (modeled after his own son Wes) for The Flintstones. His work was not limited to cartoons, as he also designed TV spots such as the animated title for I Love Lucy. Retired since the 1990s, Gene Hazelton passed away 2 years after being honored with the Winsor McCay Award.

Animator Floyd Norman is no stranger to Disney fans and historians. First working at Disney during the late 1950s into the mid-1960s, he contributed to such classics as Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone and The Jungle Book (the last film Walt personally supervised). Following the death of Walt Disney in 1966, Norman left the Disney Studios and co-founded an animation studio with animator/director Leo Sullivan. They worked on various projects together, including the original Hey! Hey! Hey! It's Fat Albert 1969 television special. During the early 1970s, Norman briefly returned to Disney to work on Robin Hood (released in 1973). The rest of the decade found Norman writing and producing animated segments for Sesame Street and supervising animation layout at Hanna-Barbera. Norman returned to Disney in the 1980s to join the Disney Publishing Group where he wrote the syndicated Mickey Mouse comic strip and contributed stories for Disney Comics. After a ten year absence from animation he returned to Disney to work on such modern day classics as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, The Tigger Movie and even Pixar's Toy Story 2 (as a storyboard artist). Some 7 years after being awarded the Winsor McCay, Disney Legend Floyd Norman continues today to share his humor and knowledge of animation through appearances and his always entertaining blog Mr. Fun.

Even if you've never seen a Disney film or visited a Disney theme park, it would practically still be impossible to escape hearing the wonderful work of Robert and Richard Sherman, also known as the Academy Award-winning songwriting duo the Sherman Brothers. First writing together in 1951, Robert began a music publishing company seven years later called Music World Corporation. This was followed by their first top-ten hit "Tall Paul" sung my Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. The success of the song yielded the attention of Walt Disney who hired them as staff songwriters. This began an amazing career filled with some of the most memorable songs ever written. Probably best know for their "It's a Small World (after all)" originally written for the 1964 World's Fair, during Walt's life the Sherman Brothers also penned songs for such features as Mary Poppins ("Feed The Birds," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," and "Chim Chim Cher-ee"), The Jungle Book, and the soundtracks for The Happiest Millionaire and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. Following Walt's death, the brothers left to work as freelance songwriters, but returned to Disney briefly in 1970 to work on The Aristocats and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Seven years later their music was heard in The Many Adventures of Winne the Pooh (which included the song "The Wonderful Things About Tiggers"). Their non-Disney music includes the hit "You're Sixteen" (made famous by Ringo Starr in the 1970s) and music for the feature Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Some 3 years after receiving the Winsor McCay, Disney Legends Richard and Robert Sherman were thrust into the limelight once again when their music was used for a stage version of Mary Poppins.

Click HERE for more exciting February 01 Disney history.

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