We called him the “Lackey.” At least that’s what my lead animation assistant, Stan Green called him. Back in 1957 I scurried down the hallway of D-Wing in the Animation Building to pick up my new clean-up assignment. Like a few hundred other animation artists, I 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 Meriweather while on 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 a Disney animation Legend. His name was Milt Kahl and the irascible directing animator was assigned multiple characters because of his skilled draftsmanship. Ironically, Kahl hated Prince Phillip most of all.
This week, Milt Kahl was animating the two kings, Hubert and Stephan in this light hearted sequence. If you remember the Disney characters, Stephan and Hubert were celebrating the joining of their two kingdoms now that their son and daughter had announced their engagement. The monarchs sang and toasted their good fortune as the Lackey continued to pour glass after glass of wine for the royal dads. The kings even sang a little toasting song they called, “Skumps!” Taking advantage of the opportunity, the Lackey decides to imbibe on the sly. Without being noticed, the servant enjoys several sips of wine until he is totally toasted. The servant ends up sprawled under the table with the mandolin on his head. The sequence ends with the snoring Lackey and a few sour notes on the mandolin. It’s a moment of light fun before the story becomes more intense.
Full disclosure requires I tell you we used rotoscopes on this animated material. Of course the live-action rotoscopes were use 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 role of the Lackey in our live-action reference. His name is probably familiar to movie buffs with a knowledge of thirties and forties motion pictues. The actor’s name is Franklin Pangborn, and Pangborn was a wonderful comedic character actor who often played prissy hotel clerks in the old black & white comedies. If you’ve ever watched vintage Hollywood movies I know you’ve seen Franklin Pangborn.
Finally, having told you this Walt Disney Sleeping Beauty story, let’s all raise our glasses and give our toast with a rousing, “Scumps!”