That’s veteran animator, Art Stevens checking out a scene with his assistant, Chuck Williams. I snapped this photograph in B-Wing back during the early sixties. Chuck and I shared an office across the hall in A-Wing where we had recently completed our work on the feature film 101 Dalmatians. The two of us moved on to assist Julius Svendsen and Art Stevens on a charming cartoon short titled “Wind Wagon Smith.” 

Once Wind Wagon Smith had wrapped, our director Charles (Nick) Nichols announced he would soon be leaving Walt Disney Productions for an assignment at a new studio called Hanna-Barbera. We had heard that Nick would be supervising director on several television shows. It appeared that Art Stevens and Chuck Williams would continue to work as a team but at the time the two were still waiting for a new assignment. However, there was the usual studio chatter about the future. Was the Old Maestro, Walt Disney ready to move a new animated motion picture into production, we wondered? Unlike todays studios, no project was given a go-ahead until Walt deemed it ready. That meant we waited until a new assignment was parceled out. If you know your Disney history you’ll know that The Sword in the Stone was originally intended to follow Sleeping Beauty in 1959. However, there was a sudden change of plans. Walt Disney informed his top writer, Bill Peet to put The Sword in the Stone aside. Walt wanted Peet to immediately begin adapting 101 Dalmatians for the screen. Once again, Walt’s instincts proved correct, and new animated movie became a huge hit.

Suddenly, Walt Disney gave the word and The Sword in the Stone was moved to the front burner. New units were pulled together and I received my new animation job as well. I was curious and excited when I considered which animator I would be assisting on my upcoming assignment. An assignment that would probably last for the next two years. My boss, Andy Engman gave me the big news quite casually. However, he did have a curious grin on his face. “We’re moving you to 1D-1,” he smiled. “ You’ll be working with Milt.” There was only one Milt in D-Wing and I had a pretty good idea who that Milt was. Was my new assignment a blessing or a curse, I wondered? Over the next two years of my Disney career I would soon find out which.

Animator, Art Stevens checks out a scene from the Disney cartoon short, "Wind Wagon Smith." The year was 1960.

Animator, Art Stevens checks out a scene from the Disney cartoon short, "Wind Wagon Smith." The year was 1960.

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AuthorFloyd Norman