Disney Background Artist Brice Mack Passes Away
Created 01/16/2008 - 00:00
Brice Mack, who painted animation backgrounds for Walt Disney in the '30s, '40s and '50s and subsequently produced and directed commercials and films, died Jan. 2nd in Hollywood, California. He was 90.
Mack painted backgrounds for SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, PINOCCHIO, FANTASIA, SONG OF THE SOUTH, CINDERELLA, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, PETER PAN and LADY AND THE TRAMP, among others. He also painted backgrounds for many shorts, including the 1942 Academy Award-winning LEND A PAW.
Mack also worked as a writer in the story department and did illustrations for various Disney projects, including the PETER PAN children's book and a Peter Pan mural in Captain Hook's pirate ship at Disneyland, which was completed just prior to the park's opening.
In addition to working for Disney, Mack also did freelance illustrations, articles and cartoons for magazines, including FORD TIMES, COLLIERS and TRUE. One article he wrote and illustrated was about a new activity called "skin-diving." Mack was an early pioneer of skin diving and made his own equipment.
During World War II, Mack left Disney in 1942 and became a pioneering navigator for the Air Transport Command. He delivered aircraft, cargo and personnel throughout the world until the end of the war.
After the war, in 1945, Mack returned to Disney. In 1954 he left to start Era Prods., a commercial production company specializing in animation. Many Disney artists and animators came to work for him and he continued to do contract work for his good friend Walt Disney. Notably, Mack painted the first iconic Disney Castle illustration for THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY TV show.
Mack's company also provided animation for The Petersen Co., one of the top commercial production houses in Hollywood during the '60s and '70s. Mack produced and directed numerous animated and live-action TV commercials for Petersen.
Mack went on to produce and direct commercials, films and theme park rides with his company, Unicorn Prods., and continued to consult for Disney until his retirement in the early '90s.
Mack's feature directing credits include JENNIFER (1977), SWAP MEET (1978), HALF A HOUSE (1979) and ROOSTER (1983). He also produced MARA OF THE WILDERNESS (1965) and RUBY (1977).
Mack and his cartoonist friends Dick Shaw and Virgil Partch had many notorious parties and adventures. In 1950, for a FORD TIMES article, they drove in the first Mexican Road Race.
In 1961, Mack and his friends held a party on the last Red Car ride from L.A. to Long Beach, dancing to animator pal Ward Kimball's Dixieland Jazz band, "The Firehouse Five Plus Two."
The son of a Navy commander, Mack was born in the Philippines and grew up in Alaska, Virginia and California.
In his senior year in high school, Mack earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona, where he was on the football and track teams. He set a record for the discus throw that stood for many years. He was also an avid boxer and served in the Cavalry. At the University of Arizona, Mack met and married Margaret Louise Spencer. They had two sons, Brice and Greg. The couple divorced in the early '50s.
In 1957, Mack married fellow Disney artist, Helen Virginia Mack, and had a third son, Kevin, who worked for his father for many years and is now an Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor (WHAT DREAMS MAY COME) currently working at Sony Pictures Imageworks (GHOST RIDER).
Brice is survived by his wife, Ginni, his sons, Brice, Greg and Kevin, and his grandsons, Jon, Ray and Danny.