Monday, March 17, 2008

The Legends: Ken Anderson

He was a good man to have around. If there was a new direction that Walt wanted to go in, chances are Ken Anderson was able to bring one or more of his many skills to bear.

Anderson was born on March 17th, 1909 in Seattle, Washington. He began college at the University of Washington and through a scholarship was able to study in Europe. Upon his return to America, he settled in California and began working for MGM Studios.

In 1934 he started what would be become a 44 year career with Walt Disney Studios. He began by working on Silly Symphonies, including one, "Three Orphan Kittens" which won a best cartoon Academy Award. From there he became an art director for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His ability to wiggle his ears served as inspiration for Dopey’s ability to do the same. He also provided art direction for Pinocchio, Fantasia and others.

Like many of his contemporaries at the studios, Anderson’s contributions to the canon are numerous. In addition to art direction, he created characters, made story contributions, layout and production design. He also provided the occasional technical innovation.

When Walt decided it was time to build a place where both young and old alike could enjoy themselves, he brought in Anderson and utilized his abilities as an architect. Peter Pan’s Flight, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and others bear marks of his conceptual design.

Ken was honored as a Disney Legend in 1991. He died on January 13, 1993.
(Photo: from the Disney Legends website)

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