Longtime Disney camera operator Robert Broughton has died at the age of 91, according to an obituary in the POST-BULLETIN in Rochester, Minnesota. Broughton passed away January 19 in a nursing home in Rochester.
In 1937, Broughton started his 45-year career with Walt Disney Studios, working as a camera operator, then supervisor of special photographic effects on almost every film the studio did from SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937) to THE BLACK HOLE (1979). He was honored as a Disney legend in 2001.
According to Broughton's Disney Legends page, his job was to create spectacular effects in a subtle way. For instance, in MARY POPPINS, he helped Dick Van Dyke dance with animated penguins by using Color Traveling Matte Composite Cinematography, an award-winning technology that combined live-action and animated actors.
"If it looked like we doctored up a scene," he recalled, "we were a failure. Our effects weren't supposed to be obvious."
After retiring in 1982, he remained Disney's greatest cheerleader while coordinating the studio's retiree club The Golden Ears for 15 years.