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Avery, Tex (26 February 1908–26 August 1980), director of animated films, was born Frederick Bean Avery in Taylor, Texas. Little is known about his family, except that he was a lineal descendant of Judge Roy Bean, from whom his middle name was derived. Interested in art as a youth, Avery took a three-month summer course in art taught by professional newspaper cartoonists at the Chicago Art Institute a year before graduating, in June 1927, from North Dallas High School, where he was a cartoonist for the yearbook and drew a cartoon strip. Two years later, he headed to California seeking a position as a comic strip artist. Finding no opportunities in that field, he took a job in the inking and painting department at the Walter Lantz Studio, which was producing Oswald the Rabbit cartoons. Remaining at the studio from 1930 to 1935, he painted cartoon backgrounds, worked as an in-betweener completing sequences to bridge the key drawings produced by the animators, wrote gags and stories, and directed two cartoons, although without screen credit....

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Joseph Barbera [left to right] Joseph Barbera and William Hanna, with some of their cartoon characters at their office in Los Angeles, 1988. Photograph by Douglas Pizac. Associated Press

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Barbera, Joseph (24 March 1911–18 December 2006), film animator and producer, was born in the neighborhood called Little Italy on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, the son of Sicilian immigrants Vincente Barbera, a barber, and Francesca Calvacca. His family (which pronounced the name ...

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Clampett, Bob (08 May 1913–02 May 1984), animation artist, was born Robert Clampett in San Diego, California, the son of Robert Caleb Clampett, a grocer, and Mildred Myrtle Clampett. Not much later, the Clampetts moved to Glendale, California, where Clampett attended local schools. While at Glendale High, Clampett won a ...

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Walt Disney. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114742).

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Disney, Walt (05 December 1901–15 December 1966), animator and motion picture producer, was born Walter Elias Disney in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Elias Disney, a building contractor, and Flora Call, a teacher. After a childhood near Marceline and in Kansas City, Missouri, Disney studied at the Chicago Institute of Art in the evening while attending McKinley High School during the day. In 1918 he enlisted in the American Ambulance Corps, serving in France and returning to employment as an artist at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio, where he befriended artist ...

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See Fleischer, Max

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Fleischer, Max (19 July 1883–11 September 1972), and Dave Fleischer (14 July 1894–23 June 1979), animators and the joint heads of Fleischer Studios, were the sons of William Fleischer, a tailor and part-time inventor, and Amalia (maiden name unknown). Max was born in Vienna, Austria, and Dave was born in New York City, where their parents moved when Max was four. Two of their brothers, Joe and Lou, also made significant contributions to Fleischer Studios. The Fleischers were relatively well off during their early years in America, but with the introduction of mass-produced clothing, they slid into poverty. The family moved to Brooklyn and relocated frequently. The children attended public schools, and both Max and Dave showed an early flair for drawing. Max attended high school in the evening and received additional training at the Art Students League and Cooper Union....

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Freleng, Friz (21 August 1906–26 May 1995), animator and producer of animated films, was born Isadore Freleng in Kansas City, Missouri. He developed his artistic skills without formal training and earned a living in his native Kansas City as a freelance artist. He married and had two daughters with his wife, Lilly. After moving to Hollywood in 1928, he joined the ...

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Hanna, William (14 July 1910–22 March 2001), animated-cartoon director and producer, was born William Denby Hanna in Melrose, New Mexico, the son of William John Hanna, a construction superintendent for water and sewer systems, and Avice Joyce Denby. During Hanna's childhood, his father's work took the family—which included six daughters in addition to Hanna, the only son—to points throughout the West, including Baker, Oregon, Logan, Utah, and San Pedro, California, and other towns in the Los Angeles area. Hanna graduated from Compton High School in 1928 and entered Compton Junior College as a journalism major. He dropped out when the onset of the Great Depression left his family in difficult circumstances....

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Harman, Hugh N. (31 August 1903–25 November 1982), and Rudolf C. Ising (07 August 1903–18 July 1992), and Rudolf C. "Rudy" Ising (7 Aug. 1903-18 July 1992), animated cartoon producers and directors, and Rudolf C. “Rudy” Ising (7 Aug. 1903-18 July 1992), animated cartoon producers and directors, were born, respectively, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and Kansas City, Missouri. Harman's parents were Fred Harman, Sr., a lawyer and rancher, and Birdie Walker Harman; information on Ising's parents does not appear in readily available sources. Harman and Ising both began their careers with studios in the Kansas City, Missouri, area, the most notable of which were predecessors of the ...

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Hubley, John (21 May 1914–21 February 1977), animated filmmaker and producer, was born in Marinette, Wisconsin, the son of John Raymond Hubley, a businessman, and Verena Kirkham, an amateur painter. After studying art at the Los Angeles Art Center School, Hubley began to train in animation at the ...

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See Harman, Hugh N.

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Kathy Merlock Jackson

Iwerks, Ub (24 March 1901–07 July 1971), animator, was born Ubbe Ert Iwwerks in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Dutch immigrant Ert Ubbe Iwwerks, who worked primarily as a barber and briefly as a photographer, and Laura May Wagoner Iwerks; he shortened his name when he was in his twenties. Iwerks grew up in Kansas City, attending Ashland Grammar School, from which he graduated in 1914. He then attended Northeast High School and worked part time as an apprentice with the Union Bank Note Company. He left school in 1916, without graduating, to work for the company full time and two years later tried his hand at farming in Scotland, Arkansas....

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McCay, Winsor Zenic (26 September 1871–26 July 1934), comic strip artist, animator, and editorial cartoonist, was born in Spring Lake, Michigan, the son of Robert McCay, a lumberman and real estate agent, and Janet Murray. McCay cited 1871 as the year of his birth, but his gravestone cites 1869, and other sources cite 1867. Since his birth record may have been destroyed in a fire, the exact year may remain unknown. In addition to public education, in 1888 McCay studied business at Cleary’s Business College in Ypsilanti and took private art lessons with John Goodison of the Michigan State Normal School, who taught him the geometric bases for effective use of perspective in drawing, lessons he would later put to extraordinary use....

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Natwick, Grim (16 August 1890–07 October 1990), film animator, was born Myron Natwick in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. He earned his nickname for his solemnity and the determination he brought to his work. Natwick studied art at the Chicago Institute of Art and the National Academy of Design in New York. A friend from art school introduced him to animation, and his first job was at the ...

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Pal, George (01 February 1908–02 May 1980), animator, film producer and director, and special effects expert, was born in Cegled, Hungary, the son of George Pal and Maria (maiden name unknown), entertainers in a traveling theater. Pal studied architecture at the Budapest Academy of Arts. After graduation he was hired by Hunnia Films of Budapest to draw subtitles and posters for silent films. Interested in animated cartoons, Pal learned the basic techniques from George Feld, a Hungarian who had been a Hollywood editor. In 1930 he married Zsoka Grandjean; they would have two children, both born in the United States....

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Terry, Paul (19 February 1887–25 October 1971), motion picture animator, was born Paul Houlton Terry in San Mateo, California, the son of Joseph Terry, an auctioneer, and Minnie Perrin, a sculptor. His mother died before he was one year old, and his father encouraged him and his four older siblings in their interest in art. Paul studied at San Francisco's Polytechnic High School but left before graduating to take a job as an office boy at the ...