Maurice J. Noble, co-director of the Academy Award-winning animated short subject DOT AND THE LINE and many other cartoon classics, died Friday, May 18, 2001. He was 91 years old. His unique and innovative use of color and design is apparent in landmark Disney films such as SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, BAMBI and DUMBO. His work on more than 60 Warner Bros. cartoons featuring characters such as Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner helped create a new look and approach to animation that continues to influence designers today. Educated at Chouinard Art Institute (precursor to CalArts), Noble began his career in advertising, where he notably designed the Red Door for the Estee Lauder Company. Noble discovered his true calling at the Walt Disney Company. DUMBO (1941) showcases his inventive understanding of color and design in its famous pink elephant sequence. During World War II, Noble created animated films for the Armed Forces, among the most memorable, the PRIVATE SNAFU series. It was during this period that he met his future collaborators Ted Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) and Chuck Jones. After the war, Noble entered into a creative partnership with Chuck Jones that would continue, off and on, for nearly 50 years. Some of the more famous animated short subjects he designed include DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24TH-AND-A-HALF CENTURY, BULLY FOR BUGS, DUCK AMUCK and WHATS OPERA, DOC? The latter two have been inducted into the National Film Registry. In the 1960s Maurice Nobles collaboration with Chuck Jones continued at MGM where they produced many Dr. Seuss classics including THE CAT IN THE HAT, HORTON HEARS A WHO and the original animated adaptation of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Noble briefly left animation in the 1970s to focus on producing a series of hand-pulled, limited edition serigraphs (silk screens). These serigraphs became collectible in their own right. In the 1990s, Noble returned to animation and contributed designs to Chuck Jones Film Productions and Warner Bros. He also formed his own studio, Maurice Noble Productions. During this time, he mentored a new generation of animation designers who work in studios as diverse as Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Pixar, Warner Bros. and the Walt Disney Company. He was a popular guest speaker at universities and software, television and film companies. Noble received an Annie Award in 1987 for creative excellence in the field of animation. In 1993, he was honored for contributions to the Disney Studio in a ceremony at Fantasia Court at Disney World, where his signature and handprints were placed in cement. His longtime collaborator, four-time Oscar winner Chuck Jones says, Maurice Noble excited, moved and stimulated us all. He approached each filmic problem with his unique history and viewpoint. Maurice had the confidence and knowledge to create a world where animation could flourish, and never intruded on the orderly advance of the story. He enhanced every film, and provided inspiration and creativity to the team. He never showed off, but he did show up every layout man or art director I have ever known by his honesty, his devotion to his craft, and above all, his commitment to the film at hand. Without him, a great many of my films could not have been made. Noble is survived by his wife Marjorie, two children and a grandson. His life will be celebrated in a memorial service in June. His complete filmography is available at www.nobletales.com.
In Maurice Noble: Animation's 'Old Rebel'," Karl Cohen interviewed the Disney legend, Maurice Noble, and discussed his career, working with Chuck Jones and the animation industry today.
Also check On A Desert Island With. . . .Pre-Production People featuring Maurice Noble, John Ramirez and Wes Archer.