If you don’t think Walt Disney Productions was filled with some of the greatest talent in the world you should simply take a look at one page from the nineteen fifties Disney Telephone Directory. Without even reading every name it still reads like a who’s who of the animation business. Even though it’s been over fifty years, let’s take a brief look at who worked for Walt Disney in the old days.
Please keep in mind I’ll be pulling out random names so if there’s someone on the list you know, please keep me informed. Under “M” let’s mention Bob McCrea. Bob was an animator who wrapped up his career as an instructor. Well versed in Disney history, all of us young kids benefited from Bob’s knowledge of the early studio. I see the name, Joe McEveety who was an assistant director on many of the live-action films. Of course, there’s the legendary, Sam McKim. Sam was a Disney veteran who lent his talents to many a feature film and wrapped up his career over at Disney Imagineering. Moving on to the “N” column we see the name of animation artist, Yusaku Nakagawa. “Steve” Nakagawa eventually moved back to Tokyo to become a big shot animation director. Then there’s Clarence “Ducky” Nash who we all know as the voice of Donald Duck. Carl Nater headed up Disney’s Educational Division and George Nicholas was an amazing animator. His name is followed by Charles Nichols, a famous animator and director who also directed the Mickey Mouse Club. Animation artist, Sylvia Niday made 1D-7 her home and veteran layout artist, Lance Nolley was upstairs in 2C-4.
I have to give special praise to Cliff Nordberg, a brilliant animator who is often overlooked in the animation history books. “Cliffy’s” animation is best characterized as energized and inspired. The unassuming, soft spoken animator was one of Disney’s finest. When it comes to animation layout, you’ll not find a more talented guy than the gifted Ernie Nordli. He worked upstairs in 2F-4. Then, there’s some guy named, Floyd Norman, but I don’t know who the hell he is or what he did. We wrap up the “Ns” with two talented animation assistants, Bill Nunes and Joe Nunez.
Beginning with the “Os,” we find the brilliant layout artist, Ken O’Connor. One could easily write a book about this amazing artist and his contribution to the Disney legacy. His name is followed by my pal, Bob Ogle. Bob was an animation artist who also had a flair for doing great story work as well as cartoon voices. Bob’s career eventually took him to television where he became a top writer of dozens of top cartoon shows. Down in 1D-11, we find the name, Dale Oliver. A good friend, Dale was known as the Key Assistant to legendary directing animator, Frank Thomas. Because Thomas was a difficult animator to follow, you could say that Dale had the toughest job in the world. We wrap up with the premiere Disney designer, Tom Oreb. Oreb was already legendary when I arrived at the studio in the fifties. His work and influence can be seen in dozens of Disney films and television shows and he continually pushed for more creativity in character and production design.
Arriving at the “Ps,” we could go on and on. There’s the wonderful and explosive, Amby Paliwoda who would often beat Milt Kahl in chess at noon. There’s animators, Ed Parks and Jack Parr. Not to be confused with the late night talk show host. Finally who could forget Walt Disney’s story master, Bill Peet, even though he ended his career with a fight with the boss himself. Let’s end this with Walt Peregoy, a talented background artist who was also known for voicing his opinions on occasion. These were simply a brief mention of a few of Walt Disney’s talented team fifty years ago. And, please keep this simple fact in mind. We’ve just gotten started - and we were only on one page of the Disney Directory.