Animating the Lackey

He was called “The Lackey.” At least that’s what my lead assistant animator, Stan Green called him. Back in 1957 I headed down the hall of D-Wing in the Animation Building to pick up my new assignment. I, like a few hundred others was working on Walt Disney’s latest animated feature motion picture, “Sleeping Beauty.”

I’ve often mentioned that I worked on the Three Good Fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merriweather while working on “Sleeping Beauty” back in the fifties. However, the fairies weren’t the only characters I sketched way back then. I spent a couple of weeks drawing this very funny guy while working for “Disney’s animation master,” Milt Kahl.

You see, Milt was animating the two kings, Hubert and Stephan in this light hearted sequence. If you recall, the two kings, Stephan and Hubert were celebrating the joining of their two kingdoms now that their son and daughter were announced to be wed. They sang and toasted their good fortune as the Lackey continued to pour several glasses of wine for the monarchs. They even sing a little toasting song entitled, “Skumps!” Taking advantage of the opportunity, the Lackey decides to imbibe on the sly and ends up totally tanked. The servant is sprawled under the table with his head in his mandolin. The sequence ends with the snoring Lackey and a few sour notes on the mandolin.

Full disclosure requires I tell you we used rotoscopes on this material. Of course, only for reference - not for tracing. If you’re wondering why the Lackey looks familiar it’s because Walt Disney used a well known character actor to play the Lackey in our live-action reference. His name is probably familiar to movie buffs who know the films of the thirties and forties. He’s Franklin Pangborn. Pangborn was a  wonderful comedic character actor who often played prissy hotel clerks in those old black & white comedies. If you’ve watch vintage Hollywood movies I know you’ve seen Franklin Pangborn.

Finally, having told you this Disney Sleeping Beauty story, let’s all raise our glasses and say, “Scumps!”