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Wolfgang Reitherman (June 26, 1909 – May 22, 1985), also known and sometimes credited as Woolie Reitherman, was an American animator, director, and producer who was one of Disney's Nine Old Men.

Wolfgang Reitherman
Wolfgang Reitherman.jpg
Born(1909-06-26)June 26, 1909
DiedMay 22, 1985(1985-05-22) (aged 75)
Cause of deathRoad accident
NationalityAmerican
Other namesWoolie Reitherman
Wooly Reitherman
Alma materPasadena Junior College
Chouinard Art Institute
OccupationDirector, animator
Years active1934–1981
Known forOne of Disney's Nine Old Men
Spouse(s)
Janie Marie McMillan
(m. 1946; died 1985)
Children3, including Bruce Reitherman

Contents

CareerEdit

Reitherman was hired at Walt Disney Productions on May 21, 1933,[1][2] and his first project was working as an animator on the Silly Symphonies cartoon, Funny Little Bunnies. Reitherman continued to work on a number of Disney shorts, including The Band Concert, Music Land, and Elmer Elephant. He animated the Slave in the Magic Mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). His next assignments was animating Monstro in Pinocchio (1940), the climactic dinosaur fight in Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in Fantasia (1940), and several scenes of Timothy Q. Mouse in Dumbo (1941).[3] Starting in 1942, Reitherman had left Disney to serve in World War II for the United States Air Force, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross after serving in Africa, China, India and the South Pacific. He was discharged in February 1946 having earned the rank of Major.[4] Reitherman rejoined Disney in April 1947,[5] where he animated the Headless Horseman chase in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" section in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). Around this same time, he had claimed he was instrumental in helping Walt Disney commit to producing Cinderella (1950). Reitherman recalled, "I just went in his office which I rarely did, and I said, 'Gee, that looks great. We ought to do do it.' It might have been a little nudge to say, 'Hey, let's get going again and let's do a feature'." On Cinderella, he was the directing animator of the sequence in which Jaq and Gus laboriously push and pull the key up the stairs to Cinderella. On Alice in Wonderland (1951), he animated the scene in which the White Rabbit's home is destroyed by an enlarged Alice. On Peter Pan (1953), he animated the scene of Captain Hook attempting to escape the crocodile.[6] For Lady and the Tramp (1955), Reitherman animated the alley dog fight sequence and Tramp's fight with the rat in the nursery room.

Reitherman served as the sequence director of Prince Phillip's climatic fight against Maleficent as a dragon in Sleeping Beauty (1959), and directed the "Twilight Bark" sequence for One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961).[7] Beginning with The Sword in the Stone (1963), he became the first sole director of a Disney animated feature,[8] which was in direct contrast to having several directors over an animated feature. Animator Ward Kimball had claimed it was because Reitherman's work compatibility and willingness to accept any project "with a smile" while animator Bob Carlson noted that Disney had trusted Reitherman's decision-making before he would embark on a film project.[8][9] He would continue to direct The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), Robin Hood (1973), and The Rescuers (1977).[2] Additionally, he would direct several animated shorts such as Goliath II (1960) and the first two Winnie the Pooh shorts, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), which had won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

While directing The Jungle Book, Reitherman followed the procedure to keep production costs low recalling Walt advising him to "keep the costs down because [feature cartoons are] going to price themselves out of business. So with that piece of advice, and with the way he pointed to Jungle Book into entertainment and character development rather than complicated stories that needed a lot of production qualities, he set the course for ten years after his death."[10] During his tenure, he frequently used "recycled" or limited animation from prior works, presumably because it was a safer method for a quality product, though it was in fact more labor-intensive,[11] not because it was supposedly cheaper.[12][13] Reitherman's use of recycling animation proved to be controversial within the studio as animator Milt Kahl lamented its use stating "I detest the use of—it just breaks my heart to see animation from Snow White used in The Rescuers. It kills me, and it just embarrasses me to tears."[14] Note this is similar to, but not the same as, rotoscoping.

Following The Rescuers, he was initially slated to direct The Fox and the Hound (1981),[15] but following creative conflicts with co-director Art Stevens, he was taken off the project. Reitherman later moved on to several undeveloped animation projects such as Catfish Bend based on the book series by Ben Lucien Burman and Musiciana, a follow-up project to Fantasia in which he co-developed with artist Mel Shaw. In 1980, he developed an adaptation of the children's novel The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, but work was discontinued due to the studio's desire for ambitious films such as The Black Cauldron (1985).[16] In the following year, he retired.[17]

Personal life and deathEdit

Born in Munich, German Empire, Reitherman's family moved to America when he was a child. After attending Pasadena Junior College and briefly working as a draftsman for Douglas Aircraft, Reitherman returned to school at the Chouinard Art Institute, graduating in 1933. Following his discharge from the Air Force, he married Janie Marie McMillan in November 1946.[18] All three of Reitherman's sons—Bruce, Richard and Robert—provided voices for Disney characters, including Mowgli in The Jungle Book, Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, and Wart in The Sword in the Stone.

On May 22, 1985, Reitherman died in a single-car accident near his Burbank, California home, aged 75. Reitherman was posthumously named a Disney Legend in 1989.[19][20]

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Credits Characters
1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Animator Magic Mirror
1940 Pinocchio Animation Director Pinocchio, and Monstro
Fantasia Animation Supervisor – Segment "The Rite of Spring" Stegosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus Rex
1941 The Reluctant Dragon Animator
Dumbo Animation Director Timothy Q. Mouse
1943 Saludos Amigos Animator Goofy
1947 Fun and Fancy Free Directing Animator Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy
1949 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Directing Animator Headless Horseman
1950 Cinderella Directing Animator Mice
1951 Alice in Wonderland Directing Animator White Rabbit
1953 Peter Pan Directing Animator Captain Hook, and Tick-Tock the Crocodile
Ben and Me (Short) Animator Amos
1955 Lady and the Tramp Directing Animator Tramp, The Stray Dogs, and The Rat
1957 The Truth About Mother Goose (Documentary short) Director
1959 Sleeping Beauty Sequence Director
Donald in Mathmagic Land (Short) Sequence Director
1960 Goliath II (Short) Director
1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians Director
Aquamania (Short) Director
1963 The Sword in the Stone Director
1966 Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (Short) Director
1967 The Jungle Book Director
1968 Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (Short) Director
1970 The Aristocats Producer and Director
1973 Robin Hood Producer and Director
1974 Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (Short) Producer
1977 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Producer and Director
The Rescuers Producer and Director
1981 The Fox and the Hound Co-Producer
1985 The Walt Disney Comedy and Magic Revue (Video short) Director – Archive Footage

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 33.
  2. ^ a b Berge, John (2016). "De lystige skurkene I Sherwood-skogen". Donald Duck & Co. De komplette årgangene – 1974 del IV (in Norwegian). Oslo: Egmont Kids Media Nordic. p. 6. ISBN 978-82-429-5379-7.
  3. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 35–41.
  4. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 42.
  5. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 44.
  6. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 46−7.
  7. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 48−9.
  8. ^ a b Barrier 1999, p. 467.
  9. ^ Barrier 2008, p. 276.
  10. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 51.
  11. ^ MacQuarrie, Jim (June 2, 2015). "The Real Truth About Disney's "Recycled Animation"". Medium. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  12. ^ Visser, Nick (May 15, 2015). "Apparently Disney Used To Recycle Animation Scenes, And It's Blowing Our Minds". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  13. ^ Coggan, Devan (May 15, 2015). "See Just How Often Disney Recycled Animation". TIME. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  14. ^ Milt Kahl (March 30, 2011). "Milt Kahl: An interview by Michael Barrier and Milton Gray" (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Barrier and Milton Gray. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  15. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (July 27, 1978). "Disney Incubating New Artists". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  16. ^ Hill, Jim (January 17, 2018). "Where Disney failed, Studio Ponoc succeeds with its debut animated feature, "Mary and the Witch's Flower"". The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  17. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 53.
  18. ^ Canemaker 2001, p. 43.
  19. ^ "Wolfgang Reitherman". D23. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  20. ^ Folkart, Burt (May 24, 1985). "Wolfgang Reitherman, 75: Disney Animator Dies in Car Crash". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved October 30, 2016.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit