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Milton Erwin "Milt" Kahl (March 22, 1909 – April 19, 1987) was an American animator. He was one of (and often considered the most influential of) Walt Disney's supervisory team of animators, known as Disney's Nine Old Men.

Milt Kahl
Milt Kahl.jpg
Milton Erwin Kahl

(1909-03-22)March 22, 1909
DiedApril 19, 1987(1987-04-19) (aged 78)
Years active1936–1978
Known forOne of Disney's Nine Old Men
  • Laura Nordquist Kahl
    (m. 1934; died 1967)
  • Phyllis Bounds Detiege
    (m. 1968; div. 1978)
  • Julie Kahl
    (m. 1980; died 1987)


Kahl was born in San Francisco, California, to Erwin, a saloon bartender, and Grace Kahl.[1] He had three younger sisters, Dorothy, Marion and Gladys.[2] He would often refine the characters sketches from Bill Peet with the ideas of Ken Anderson. For many years the final look for the characters in the Disney films were designed by Kahl, in his angular style inspired by Ronald Searle and Picasso. He is revered by contemporary masters of the form, such as Andreas Deja, and Brad Bird, who was his protégé at Disney in the early 1970s. In the behind-the-scenes feature "Fine Food and Film" shown on the Ratatouille DVD, Bird referred to Kahl as "tough," but in a gentle way, as he often gave Bird advice on where he could improve in animation whenever he came up short. He also worked as a character designer for The Black Cauldron.

In the book The Animator's Survival Kit, the author Richard Williams makes repeated reference and anecdotes relating to Kahl. The centenary of Kahl's birth was honored by the Academy on April 27, 2009, with a tribute entitled "Milt Kahl: The Animation Michelangelo" and featured Brad Bird as a panelist.[3]

Kahl died of pneumonia, aged 78, in Mill Valley, California.

Characters animated by KahlEdit

Characters animated by Kahl include the following.


  1. ^ 1910 United States Federal Census
  2. ^ 1920 United States Federal census
  3. ^ "Milt Kahl: The Animation Michelangelo". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2009-09-28.

External linksEdit