ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.12 - MARCH 2000
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Maleficent was only one of the many female characters Davis created in his career. © Walt Disney Enterprises.
After 101 Dalmatians (1961), Walt Disney moved Davis from feature animation to designing attractions for the New York World's Fair, Disneyland, Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. He did extensive preliminary work on "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "It's a Small World" and "The Haunted Mansion" before his retirement in 1978. Davis also taught advanced drawing classes for 17 years at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. His students included commercial animator Bob Kurtz, UCLA animation professor Dan McLaughlin and fashion designer Alice Estes, whom he subsequently married.
The imaginative mind of Marc Davis contributed greatly to Disneyland. © Disney. 1998 Disneyland ®
After his retirement, Davis lectured at the studio and was honored with retrospectives of his work at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Annecy International Animation Festival and a recent exhibition of drawings and paintings at the Larry Smith Fine Arts Gallery in Los Angeles.
Those of us who were privileged to know Marc, remember him as a soft-spoken and gentle man. In a discussion, Marc rarely disagreed. But a questionable idea would be met with raised eyebrows and the comment, "You think so, do you?"
His knowledge of world art was vast and eclectic; he was particularly interested in the art of Papua New Guinea. He appreciated and respected all forms of animation -- provided they were done well. He praised the work of young animators who adhered to the principles of good drawing, anatomical accuracy, appealing design and believable acting, but dismissed inferior or carelessly done work. He drew constantly, noting that if you carried a hard-backed sketch book and a fountain drawing pen, you could draw anywhere. On his visits to New Guinea, he made dazzling sketches in the rain forests; at home, he drew the animals and people he saw on TV in a few sure, powerful strokes.
Marc Davis (1913-2000). Courtesy of Walt Disney Enterprises.
To animators, historians and fans around the world, Marc Davis was a friend, a mentor and an inspiration. We won't see a talent of his magnitude again for a long time.
Ave atque vale.
Charles Solomon is an internationally respected critic and historian of animation. His most recent books include The Disney That Never Was (Hyperion, 1995), Les Pionniers du Dessin Animé Américain (Dreamland, Paris, 1996) and Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation (Knopf, 1989; reprinted, Wings, 1994). His writings on the subject have appeared in TV Guide, Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times, Modern Maturity, Film Comment, The Hollywood Reporter, Millimeter, The Manchester Guardian, and been reprinted in newspapers and professional journals in the United States, Canada, France, Russia, Britain, Israel, the Netherlands and Japan.
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