The Story Behind the Sketch

It was early in production 2082, and with the exception of sequence eight there wasn’t a lot to show. A good portion of the animation team gathered in the third floor screening room where new animated scenes would be shown. A good portion of the stuff we would be screening would be the work of master animator, Marc Davis. You’re probably already ahead of me and you know the scenes I’m referring to this early morning back in nineteen fifties Disney.

The lights in the screening room dimmed and the 35mm projector began to roll. There was almost an audible gasp when the gorgeous animation by Marc Davis came onscreen. The voice on the track was more than familiar. It was Eleanor Audley, a marvelous actress whose distintive, icy voice could make your blood run cold. She had voiced Lady Tremain in Walt Disney’s “Cinderella,” and now she would lend her considerable talents to our new animated motion picture. However, it was the animation of Marc Davis that had us all spellbound. He had given life to the evil fairy, Malificent and we knew we had a new Disney villian that would be unforgetable.

When “Sleeping Beauty” rolled full tilt into production, various clean-up units were established by Disney’s animation bosses to expedite production. Units consisting of a half dozen artists or more took up residence in various wings of the Animation Building. Dale Barnhart was an incredible Disney talent who could do darn near anything. He was an accomplished musician who also composed music for jazz legends such as, Stan Kenton. Dale was an animator, layout artist as well as a talented painter. His unit would complete the final animation drawings for Malificent, and it goes without saying, the finished work would have to be spot on. Barnhart’s team was located on the third floor of the Animation Building and consisted of Bob Longo, Fernando Arce and Ruben Apodaca. It’s important that you know the names of these artists because each of these guys went on to have a pretty significant career in the cartoon business. My good friends, Fernando and Ruben have since passed on, but artist, Bob Longo is still with us.

They say there’s a story behind every picture, so I thought I’d share just a little bit of what’s behind this color sketch of Malificent. Eleanor Audley provided her voice and the brilliant animator, Marc Davis brought her to life. However, I’d advise you not to forget the work of the talented, “unknown” clean-up artists whose finished drawings you see on the big screen. Thankfully, I can say these guys are now no longer unknown. And, that’s the reason I’m sharing these thoughts with you.