The Amazing Amby Paliwoda

This morning let's talk about another amazing Disney animator you've probably never even heard of. His name is, Ambrozi Paliwoda, but we all knew him as “Amby.” I thought I would take a look at the credits Mr. Paliwoda had racked up over the years and found they were too many to list. It appears Amby Paliwoda worked on darn near everything in his lengthy career. However, I know Amby best as a Disney animator and some years later, we both worked on Bill Cosby's “Fat Albert Special.” But, that's another story.

Amby Paliwoda started at Walt Disney Productions in 1935. Yeesh! That's year I was born and it gives some idea how long Amby's been around. He was one of the charter members who signed the original petition that led to the formation of the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, Local 839 IATSE. Today, our union is known as, The Animation Guild. However, Amby was still conservative when it came to politics and he gave our union holy hell when our cheeky newsletter logo began to look a little too “red.” Commies, Amby did not like.

Many stories could be told about Amby Paliwoda but my favorite is the time he chopped up his Disney animation desk in order to build a bass fiddle out of the wood. When Walt Disney heard one of his artists had demolished company property in order to make a musical instrument, the Old Maestro had to come downstairs to see for himself. You would have thought this behavior would have led to immediate dismissal from the company, wouldn't you? Not so with Walt Disney. When the boss saw what Amby Paliwoda had done to the beloved Disney drawing desk, he turned and walked back down the hallway laughing his head off. True story. I kid you not. This was a Disney studio totally unlike today.

“101 Dalmatians” was our last Disney film together. Sadly, once the film was wrapped, Amby and several Disney veterans were given their pink slips. However, yesterday's animators were not like the mild mannered animators of today. Amby Paliwoda called the Disney executive who sacked him, every name but “a child of god.” You're getting this information first hand because I was in A-Wing of the Animation Building when this happened. I also heard stories that Amby literally chased the frightened Disney executive around his desk. This was the Disney Studio that I knew and loved.

Amby Paliwoda's career did not end when he left the Walt Disney Studios. Unlike other sacked artists who trudged home to lick their wounds, the talented Mr. Paliwoda went on to contribute creatively to a ton of stuff over the next several years. One of the shows he worked on in the sixties was “The Fat Albert Special” where he gave life to “Old Weird Harold and a host of Cosby characters. After decades of animating at the Disney Studios, it would appear that Amby Paliwoda was just getting started.

Amby Paliwoda was irascible, old and crusty. He had this wonderful beak of a nose that gave him a distinctive look. He was conservative politically and progressive when it came to art. He was one of most amazing Disney artists I've ever had the pleasure of working with and one of the funniest guys I ever knew.