Veteran Disney Animator/Filmmaker Art Stevens Dies
Created 06/29/2007 - 00:00
Veteran Disney animator/filmmaker Art Stevens, who co-produced and co-directed THE FOX AND THE HOUND, and co-directed THE RESCUERS during his illustrious 44-year career at the Disney studio, passed away at the age of 92 on May 22, 2007, at his home in Studio City, California, after suffering a heart attack in his rose garden.
The Montana native applied for a job at the Disney Studios in 1939 when he learned that Walt Disney was planning an animated feature based on one of his favorite stories, ALICE IN WONDERLAND. He submitted a group of sketches to Disney and was subsequently hired after a six-month wait.
Stevens started as in-betweener and was soon assigned to work on FANTASIA, and contributed his artistic talents to the "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," "Pastoral Symphony," "Nutcracker Suite," and "Night on Bald Mountain" segments. He went on to in-between on BAMBI (1942), and several other features before achieving full character animator status on Peter Pan (1953). His credits also include ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS, WINNIE THE POOH AND THE BLUSTERY DAY, MARY POPPINS and the underwater sequence from the 1971 Disney feature, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS.
In the 1950s, he provided story concepts and animation for the three landmark television documentaries on space exploration (directed and produced by animation legend Ward Kimball) for the Disneyland TV show: MAN IN SPACE (1955), MAN AND THE MOON (1955) and MARS AND BEYOND (1957). Stevens also worked with Kimball on two Academy Award-winning Disney featurettes: TOOT, WHISTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM and IT'S TOUGH TO BE A BIRD.
After animating on Robin Hood, Stevens was a co-director with Wolfgang Woolie Reitherman and John Lounsbery on the 1977 animated feature, THE RESCUERS. THE FOX AND THE HOUND, which he produced (with Woolie Reitherman), and co-directed (with Ted Berman and Dave Michener), became Disney's highest grossing film at the time of its original release in 1981. Stevens retired from Disney in 1983.
Stevens helped to design and animate the title sequences for such Disney features as FREAKY FRIDAY, NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN, THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD and THE NORTH AVENUE IRREGULARS.
Stevens is survived by his wife of 68 years, Penny, two sons (Craig Stevens of Cottonwood, Arizona, and Kent Stevens of Eugene, Oregon), and four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Parkinson's Disease Foundation (1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, New York 10018) or Macular Degeneration Foundation Inc. (P.O. Box 531313, Henderson, Nevada 89053).