Glen Keane (born April 13, 1954) is an American animator, director, author and illustrator. As a character animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios for 38 years (1974–2012), he worked on feature films including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan and Tangled. He received the 1992 Annie Award for character animation and the 2007 Winsor McCay Award for lifetime contribution to the field of animation. He was named a Disney Legend in 2013, a year after retiring from the studio.

Glen Keane
Born (1954-04-13) April 13, 1954 (age 70)
Years active1973–present
Employer(s)Filmation (1973)
Walt Disney Animation Studios (1974–2012)
Linda Hesselroth
(m. 1975)
ChildrenClaire Keane
Max Keane
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Animated Short Film
Dear Basketball (2017)

In 2017, Keane directed Dear Basketball, an animated short film based on Kobe Bryant's retirement poem in The Players' Tribune, for which Keane and Bryant received the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

Early life edit

Keane was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of cartoonist Bil Keane, creator of The Family Circus, and Australian-born Thelma Keane (née Carne). He was raised in Paradise Valley, Arizona, as a Catholic.[1][2]

Keane's interest in art developed from observing his father's work as a cartoonist.[3] (Keane's father based his Family Circus character of Billy on Glen's younger self.) To encourage Glen to draw, his father gave him a copy of Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy, and recommended he observe body forms and practice creative approaches to life drawing.

After graduating from high school at Brophy College Preparatory in 1972,[4] Keane applied to the California Institute of the Arts School of Art, rather than accepting a football scholarship to another college. His application was accidentally sent to the Program in Experimental Animation (then called Film Graphics), where he was mentored by Jules Engel.[3]

Career edit

Glen Keane demonstrating storyboarding

Keane left CalArts in 1974 and joined Disney the same year, where he spent three years working with veteran animator Ollie Johnston on the characters Bernard and Penny in The Rescuers. He subsequently animated Elliott the Dragon in Pete's Dragon, and the climactic bear showdown in The Fox and the Hound.

In 1982, inspired by the groundbreaking film Tron, Keane collaborated with animator John Lasseter (Toy Story, Toy Story 2) on a 30-second test scene of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, which was optioned for them by Disney executive Tom Wilhite.[5] The test integrated traditional character animation and computer-generated backgrounds (Video on YouTube), and, like Tron, was a cooperation with MAGI. It was Disney's first experiment with digitally-drawn characters.[6] Although the project was revolutionary (and became a predecessor to the famous ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast), Disney declined to invest further in the featurette due to its cost.

In 1983, Keane left contract employment with Disney and worked as a freelance artist.[3] He animated the character Professor Ratigan in Disney's The Great Mouse Detective; the "Boys and Girls of Rock n' Roll" and "Getting Lucky" in The Chipmunk Adventure; and the characters Fagin, Sykes, Jenny Foxworth, and Georgette in Oliver & Company.

He became a lead character animator, one of the group of young animators mentored by "Disney's Nine Old Men". Keane animated some of Disney's most memorable characters in what has been called the "New "Golden Age" of Disney Animation.[7][self-published source] He designed and animated the character of Ariel in the film The Little Mermaid (1989), and the eagle Marahute in The Rescuers Down Under. He was supervising animator for the title characters of the three Disney hit features Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Pocahontas.

While living with his family in Paris, France for three years, Keane completed work on Disney's 1999 Tarzan, for which he drew the eponymous character. He then returned to Disney's Burbank studio as the lead animator for John Silver in Treasure Planet.

In 2003, he began work as the director of Disney's CGI animated film Tangled (based on the Brothers Grimm story Rapunzel), released in November 2010, where Keane and his team strove to bring the style and warmth of traditional animation to computer animation. In October 2008, due to "non-life threatening health issues", Keane stepped back as director of Tangled, but remained the film's executive producer and an animating director.[8]

On March 23, 2012, Keane left Walt Disney Animation Studios after 37 years there. In a letter to his coworkers, he said, "I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me – Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston – as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years. I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist its siren call to step out and discover them."[9]

He later said that one of the reasons he left Disney was his experience during the production of Tangled, which underwent several storyline and title changes. He felt that in a big studio like Disney, there were too many conflicting interests, with management pulling people "in too many different directions".[10]

In December 2013, it was announced that Keane joined Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects Group to help its engineers create interactive hand-drawn animation.[11][12] He released his first animated short, Duet, at the Google I/O Conference in San Francisco on June 25, 2014. It is the first hand-drawn cartoon made at 60 frames per second,[13] and the third in a series of shorts, called the Spotlight Stories, designed to explore spatial awareness and the sensory inputs of a mobile device to create distinctive storytelling experiences.[14] When Google sold its Motorola subsidiary in early 2014, Keane and his group remained there.[15]

In 2015, it was revealed that Keane and 16 other prominent artists and filmmakers had been hired by the Paris Opera to work on their 3rd Stage project.

Keane is the creator of the animated short Nephtali (a reference to Jacob's blessings and Psalm 42), on which he collaborated with choreographer and ballet dancer Marion Barbeau.[16]

In addition to his work as an animator, Keane has written and illustrated a series of children's books based on Bible parables, featuring the characters Adam Raccoon and King Aren the Lion.

Keane directed the Chinese animated film Over the Moon, about a girl who builds a rocket and flies to the moon to meet a legendary moon goddess. Written by Audrey Wells, produced by Pearl Studio, and animated by Sony Pictures Imageworks, it was released on Netflix on October 23, 2020.[17][18][19]

At the 2018 Oscars, Keane shared the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film with Kobe Bryant for Dear Basketball, which was based on a poem Bryant wrote on his retirement.[20] On May 26, 2018 Keane received the 2017 Reuben Award for the Cartoonist of the Year [21] in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA.

Personal life edit

In 1975, during the production of his debut film, Keane married Linda Hesselroth. They are the parents of design artist Claire Keane and computer graphics artist Max Keane.

Keane has been cited among artists with aphantasia, a condition characterized by an inability to form mental images.[22][23][24] He is a Christian.[25][26]

Filmography edit

Year Title Credits Characters Notes
1973 My Favorite Martians Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Star Trek: The Animated Series Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Lassie's Rescue Rangers Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Mission: Magic! Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
1977 The Rescuers Character Animator Bernard, Miss Bianca and Penny
Pete's Dragon Character Animator Elliott the Dragon
1979 A Family Circus Christmas (TV Movie short) Animator / Models
1981 The Fox and the Hound Supervising Animator The Bear, Vixey, Tod, Copper, The Badger, The Porcupine and Tod's Mother
1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol (Short) Animator
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Supervising Animator Professor Ratigan
1987 The Chipmunk Adventure Animator / Storyboard Artist
1988 Oliver & Company Character Designer / Supervising Animator Sykes, Georgette, Fagin and Jenny Foxworth
1989 The Little Mermaid Character Designer / Supervising Animator Ariel
1990 The Rescuers Down Under Storyboard Artist / Supervising Animator / Character Designer / Visual Development Artist Marahute
1991 Beauty and the Beast Supervising Animator Beast
1992 Aladdin Supervising Animator Aladdin
1995 Pocahontas Story / Supervising Animator / Visual Development Artist / Character Designer Pocahontas
1999 Tarzan Story / Supervising Animator Tarzan
2002 Treasure Planet Supervising Animator Captain Long John Silver
2003 Mickey's PhilharMagic (Short) Animator Ariel
2008 Bolt Special Thanks
2010 Tangled Executive Producer / Animation Supervisor / Character Designer Rapunzel
2011 Adam and Dog (Short) Film Consultant
2012 Paperman (Short) Character Designer Meg
Wreck-It Ralph Additional Visual Development Artist
2014 Duet (Short) Director / Animator
2016 Invasion! (Short) Special Thanks
2017 Dear Basketball (Short) Director / Animator Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film
2020 Over the Moon Director / Executive Producer / Character Designer / Story Artist / Voice Actor (Space Dog and Rail Worker #3) Feature directorial debut[17]

Publications edit

  • Keane, Glen (1986). Adam Raccoon and the King's Big Dinner. Colorado Springs, Col.: Chariot Victor Pub. ISBN 978-0-7814-0039-8. OCLC 49002064.
  • Keane, Glen (1987). Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-1-55513-087-9. OCLC 14588033.
  • Keane, Glen (1987). Adam Raccoon in Lost Woods. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-1-55513-088-6. OCLC 14905950.
  • Keane, Glen (1987). Adam Raccoon and the Circus Master. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-1-55513-090-9. OCLC 14931727.
  • Keane, Glen (1989). Adam Raccoon and the Flying Machine. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-1-55513-287-3. OCLC 18050595.
  • Keane, Glen (1989). Adam Raccoon and the Mighty Giant. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-1-55513-288-0. OCLC 19397210.
  • Campbell, Stan; Vogel, Jane; Duckworth, John; Townsend, Jim; Glen Keane (ill.) (1992). Quick studies: Philippians–Hebrews. Elgin, Ill.: D.C. Cook Pub. Co. ISBN 978-0-7814-0028-2. OCLC 28687078.
  • Campbell, Stan; Duckworth, John; Townsend, Jim; Glen Keane (ill.) (1992). Quick Studies: James–Revelation. Elgin, Ill.: D.C. Cook Pub. Co. ISBN 978-0-7814-0029-9. OCLC 28687002.
  • Keane, Glen (1993). Adam Raccoon and the Race to Victory Mountain. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-1-55513-363-4. OCLC 25367425.
  • Keane, Glen (1995). Adam Raccoon and Bully Garumph. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-1-55513-367-2. OCLC 32745892.
  • Keane, Glen (1995). Cookie time: a first lesson in obedience. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-0-7814-0206-4. OCLC 37453329.
  • Keane, Glen (1995). Follow the king: A first lesson in trust. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books. ISBN 978-0-7814-0207-1. OCLC 37453329.
  • Keane, Glen; Taylor, Samii; Yakovetic, Joe (1995). Parables for Little Kids. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Family Pub. ISBN 978-0-7814-0258-3. OCLC 33440835.
  • Keane, Glen (2016). The Adventures of Adam Raccoon: Forever Falls. Irvine, CA: Green Egg Media. ISBN 978-1-93721-219-3.
  • Keane, Glen (2016). The Adventures of Adam Raccoon: Lost Woods. Irvine, CA.: Green Egg Media. ISBN 978-1-93721-221-6.
  • Keane, Glen (2016). The Adventures of Adam Raccoon: The Circus Master. Irvine, CA: Green Egg Media. ISBN 978-1-93721-217-9.
  • Keane, Glen (2016). The Adventures of Adam Raccoon: The Flying Machine. Irvine, CA: Green Egg Media. ISBN 978-1-93721-218-6.
  • Keane, Glen (2016). The Adventures of Adam Raccoon: The Mighty Giant. Irvine, CA: Green Egg Media. ISBN 978-1-93721-222-3.
  • Keane, Glen (2016). The Adventures of Adam Raccoon: The King's Big Dinner. Irvine, CA: Green Egg Media. ISBN 978-1-93721-220-9.
  • Keane, Glen (2016). The Adventures of Adam Raccoon: Race to Victory Mountain. Irvine, CA: Green Egg Media. ISBN 978-1-93721-223-0.
  • Keane, Glen (2016). The Adventures of Adam Raccoon: Bully Garumph. Irvine, CA: Green Egg Media. ISBN 978-1-93721-216-2.

References edit

  1. ^ Bass, Abigail (December 8, 2017). "Tale as Old as Time". Gideons International. Archived from the original on December 7, 2018. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  2. ^ Ghez, Didier (Fall 1998). "Glen Keane: An Interview". Animation Journal. 7 (1): 52–69. ISSN 1061-0308. OCLC 25161230.
  3. ^ a b c Ghez, Didier, "Interview with Glen Keane". Walt Disney Feature Animation France, Montreuil: May 2, 1997 retrieved 2008-08-10
  4. ^ Stefani, Stephanie. "Notable Alumni". Brophy College Preparatory. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  5. ^ Paik, Karen; Iwerks, Leslie (November 2007). To infinity and beyond!: the story of Pixar Animation Studios. Chronicle Books. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0-8118-5012-4.
  6. ^ "A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation". Archived from the original on January 26, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  7. ^ Ghez, Didier (2011). Walt's People: Talking Disney With the Artists Who Knew Him. Vol. 11. Xlibris. pp. 502–562. ISBN 9781465368409.
  8. ^ Glen Keane leaving Disney's RAPUNZEL. Who's stepping up?, Disney in-house memo, Ain't It Cool News, October 9, 2008
  9. ^ Anderson, Paul (March 25, 2012). "Glen Keane quits Disney Animation after 38 years". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  10. ^ How Glen Keane went from Disney to Netflix to direct - Insider
  11. ^ Disney legend Glen Keane joins Spotlight Stories Archived February 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ It’s Official: Glen Keane Joins Motorola to Direct Interactive Hand-Drawn Short Film
  13. ^ Veteran Animator Glen Keane on His ‘Duet’ With Google
  14. ^ Koch, Dave (June 28, 2014). "Glen Keane's Animated Poem Duet". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  15. ^ Finley, Klint (June 30, 2014). "Motorola's 'Mad Science' Department Will Stay With Google". Wired.
  16. ^ Glen Keane Creates ‘Nephtali' Short for the Paris Opera
  17. ^ a b Amidi, Amid (February 6, 2018). "Glen Keane Will Direct 'Over The Moon' For Pearl Studio And Netflix". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  18. ^ Evry, Max (February 6, 2018). "Disney Animator Glen Keane to Direct Netflix's Over the Moon". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  19. ^ Pearl Studio Enters the World Stage with Full Slate of Features at Annecy Studio Focus Session
  20. ^ Mumford, Gwilym (March 5, 2018). "Kobe Bryant's Dear Basketball wins best animated short film at Oscars 2018". the Guardian. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  21. ^ National Cartoonists Society (May 30, 2018). "2017 Reuben Award Winner: Glen Keane".
  22. ^ Lavelle, Daniel (April 10, 2019). "Aphantasia: why a Disney animator draws a blank on his own creations". The Guardian. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  23. ^ Gallagher, James (April 9, 2019). "Aphantasia: Ex-Pixar chief Ed Catmull says 'my mind's eye is blind'". BBC News.
  24. ^ MacKissack, Matthew (June 21, 2021). "The art of Aphantasia: how 'mind blind' artists create without being able to visualise". The Conversation.
  25. ^ Paluso, Marianne (March 29, 2011). "Once Upon A Time". Christianity Today.
  26. ^ Bass, Abigail (December 8, 2017). "Tale as Old as Time". The Gideons International.

External links edit

• Original illustrations from his children's books at