This Walt Disney Studio Library copy of The Studio, from October 1952, is accompanied by its original library checkout card, which features the names of seven Disney artists who read and referenced the magazine over a six-and-a-half period throughout the 1950s.
The first name listed is that of artist John Wilson (1920-2013), who borrowed the magazine a month after its release. The British-born Wilson worked for the studio briefly in the early-50s, contributing to both the classic feature Peter Pan (as part of legendary animator Les Clark’s “Tinker Bell” unit) and the Academy-Award-winning Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. In 1955, Wilson opened his own animation studio, Fine Arts Films, and went on to enjoy a lengthy and successful career. Notable work included a feature film (Tara the Stone Cutter), the first-ever animated television special (Petroushka), several animated segments for The Sonny and Cher Show, as well as the memorable animated title sequences for such films as Billy Wilder’s Irma La Douce and the iconic musical Grease.
Only a week later, animator Dale Barnhart would borrow the magazine (and again in 1959). Barnhart, who’d recently begun his career at the studio, would go on to work as a layout artist on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, as well as contribute to such Disney classics as One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Dale’s wife, Phyllis, worked in the studio’s paint department, and the couple’s son would one day follow in his father’s footsteps as a Disney animator.
The following month saw the issue go to Disney Legend John Hench (1908-2004). Hench’s name on the card is fitting, considering he was an avid reader famously known to consume over fifty magazines a month. Playing a number of roles throughout the course of his incredible sixty-five-year career at Disney, Hench began in 1939 as a sketch artist in the story department for the animated film Fantasia. In the years following, he was given more and more responsibility, and ended up contributing to a slew of animated features (Dumbo, The Three Caballeros, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan) and live-action projects (handling animation effects for sequences of So Dear to My Heart and the True-Life Adventures series, among other things). He won an Oscar for his effects-work on the 1954 groundbreaking film, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, after which he was recruited by WED Enterprises, designing attractions for the Tomorrowland area of the yet-to-open Disneyland. In 1960, Hench worked alongside the studio head himself designing the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the Olympic Torch itself for the eighth incarnation of the winter games, held in Squaw Valley, California. A few years later, he was tapped to assist in the development and design of attractions for use in the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair (Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World, in particular). After Disney’s death, Hench served as a master planner in the construction of both the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as Tokyo Disneyland. He then took a lead role in the development of EPCOT Center, and went on to contribute to Disney’s California Adventure, Animal Kingdom, and Tokyo DisneySea. He also served as Mickey Mouse’s official portrait artist for half-a-century. Amazingly, nearly fourteen years after being inducted as a Disney Legend, the multi-talented Hench was still working full-time for the company as Senior Vice President of Imagineering when he passed away in 2004 at the age of 95.
One Disney Legend follows another, as the famed Marc Davis (1913-2000) appears next on the library card. Davis, who began his tenure at the studio as an apprentice animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1935, soon worked his way into a leading role, having a hand in many of the most beloved shorts and features of all time. Well-known for creating many of Disney’s iconic female characters during the Silver Age of Animation—Cinderella (Cinderella), Alice (Alice in Wonderland), Tinker Bell (Peter Pan), Aurora and Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), and Cruella De Vil (One Hundred and One Dalmatians)—Davis’ talents earned him a spot in the elite group of Walt Disney Studio animators who pioneered the art form and whom Walt endearingly termed his “Nine Old Men.” Davis eventually took his talents to WED Enterprises, and as one of Walt’s original Imagineers, made major contributions to such classic Disneyland attractions as the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Country Bear Jamboree, as well as those developed for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, some of which would be later transplanted to the park. Even after retiring in 1978, after a forty-plus-year career, during which he helped shape the landscapes of both animation and themed entertainment, Davis continued as a consultant to the company for later theme-park projects. He was inducted as a Disney Legend, along with his fellow “Old Men,” in 1989.
Rounding out the trio of consecutive Disney Legends on the card is Ken Anderson (1909-1993), who borrowed the magazine the day before Valentine’s 1953 (though the stamp was incorrectly set to 1952). Anderson was another artist with diverse talents, even prompting Walt to refer to him as the studio’s “Jack of All Trades.” A West-Coast native, but trained in Europe as an architect, Anderson returned to the States after school and worked as a sketch artist for MGM. One day in 1934, Anderson passed by the Disney Studios in his car and spontaneously pulled over, went inside, and applied for a job. He was hired and put to work on the Silly Symphony cartoon series (including the Oscar-winner, Three Orphan Kittens), before being named art director for the studio’s first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Interestingly, the lovable character Dopey’s wiggling ears—a gag used repeatedly throughout the film—were inspired by Anderson’s ability to do the same. He would serve in the same role for the studio’s next two features, Pinocchio and Fantasia, as well as 1941’s The Reluctant Dragon. He was continually helping to innovate the process of combining animation and live-action footage, techniques which were developed and utilized during the features Song of the South (1946) and Pete’s Dragon (1977). For the latter, he created the lovable dragon-sidekick Elliott. Among his other notable character designs is The Jungle Book‘s memorable antagonist Shere Khan. Anderson held key roles in the production of many other Disney classics, including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and The Aristocats. His architectural skills were also put to good use in the creation of Disneyland, Anderson contributing concept and design artwork for such attractions as Peter Pan’s Flight, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Storybook Land. Like many of his counterparts, he returned to the company after his retirement on a project-to-project basis, developing the never-realized (but much-talked-about) African pavilion for EPCOT Center. Anderson was named a Disney Legend in 1991, two years before his death.
Henry Tanous, the next name on the list, was a celebrated animator who worked at the studios from the late-40s through early-60s, contributing to both shorts and features, including the Academy-Award-winning Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom and most famously the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. Tanous was also a writer, who authored children’s books with his wife Helen.
Colin Campbell (1926-2011) borrowed the magazine in the autumn of ’54, two years after its release, the last of the Disney Legends to do so. Campbell started work for the studio as a messenger-boy at the age of sixteen. He later went on to work as an animator on such popular shorts as The Truth About Mother Goose, Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land, and Goliath II, as well as features like Lady and the Tramp and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. He also did layout and backgrounds for the Disneyland television program, most notably the wildly popular Tomorrowland “space” episodes. In addition, he worked as a set designer for the Mickey Mouse Club series and served as a matte background painter for live-action films, such as The Light in the Forest and Darby O’Gill and the Little People. He also did significant work for WED Enterprises, contributing paintings of Disneyland concept art for the purpose of acquiring project investors in the year before the park’s opening. He was then tapped for the design of the Disney-created contributions to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, including work on Ford’s Magic Skyway, It’s a Small World, and the Carousel of Progress. He helped develop the iconic Enchanted Tiki Room and Pirates of the Caribbean attractions for Disneyland, Campbell responsible for the design of the memorable Blue Bayou scene, as well as the flat-bottomed-boat ride vehicles. He also had a hand in designing Walt Disney’s elite (and secretive) Club 33, famously painting a Mississippi River scene on the lid of Lillian Disney’s harpsichord, which sat in the club’s lounge. Campbell’s talents extended to the design of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, his concept art utilized in the creation of several hotels and attractions. He also played a role in the design of Tom Sawyer’s Island, as well as the Florida version of Pirates. He went on to assist in the design of Disney-MGM Studios and Disneyland Paris, and served as art director throughout the creation of Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2013, two years after his passing.
Besides Dale Barnhart’s repeat checkout, which occurred on June 24, 1959, that rounds out the impressive list of names on the library card. Counting four Disney Legends among its readers, both card and magazine represent an extremely talented group of artists responsible for the animated, live-action, and theme-park entertainment the world continues to enjoy these many decades later.