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 Marc Davis  (1913 - 2000)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: drawing, animation, cartoon figures

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Ad Code: 4
Marc Davis
from Auction House Records.
Marc Davis Studio Tinker Bell Limited Edition Bronze Statue
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Marc Davis was born in Bakersfield, CA on March 30, 1913.  During the 1930s he studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.  Like so many Depression era young people looking for jobs, he was pleased in 1935 to hire on at modest wages when Walt Disney offered him a job,  even though he had little knowledge or skill in Disney Studio projects.  Davis became an apprentice animator, and, remaining for 43 years, was one of Disney's closest associates, and part of a group of long-timers dubbed "nine old men" by Disney.  (The others were Les Clark, Milk Kahl, Frank Thomas, Woolie Reitherman, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball, and Ollie Johnston.)

A major part of the training for the pioneering Disney Studio newcomers was spending half the day doing life drawing in the Disney Art School headed by Don Graham, and then going to Griffiths Park, Los Angeles, twice a week to become skilled at animal drawing.  In the overall operation, Disney was the head, then the Directors who assembled the creative efforts to carry out his directives, followed by the Story Department that created the plots and gags, and then the Animators who made the Story drawings and brought the drawings these drawings to life.  In Disney's biography by Bob Thomas, it was written that "Of all the contributors to the creative process, Walt had greatest respect for the animators." (126)

While there, Marc Davis created such characters as Sleeping Beauty, Tinker Bell, and Cinderella.  Later, as an Imagineer, he helped create many of the theme park attractions including the animation for the boat ride through the countries of the world in the exhibit "It's a Small World", which debuted at the 1964 World's Fair, and which was installed at both Disneyland and Disneyworld.

Marc Davis, "who had a rare knack of putting Walt's ideas into form" (338) worked with Walt Disney and Joe Potter as the original core planners of Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  Then in the mid 1960s, he and Joe Potter made plans with Walt Disney for a 'City of Tomorrow' to be near Disney World in Florida.  Disney called them the Florida Project Committee, and the original idea was to build another theme park in the Disney World vicinity.  With Disney's concept that the new venture should have every possible scientific advance and that it could become a model for environmental quality for American cities, the threesome worked covertly.  Only each of them had keys to the Florida office where the plans were kept.  They sent letters of inquiries to over 500 corporations, factories and research centers involved in future concepts, considered many models submitted for possible use, and read vociferously.  One day, still without a name for their endeavor, the staff was having lunch with Disney who said:  "What we're talking about is an experimental prototype community of tomorrow.  What does that spell? E-p-c-o-t, EPCOT.  That's what we'll call it." (339)

In 1966, on one of Walt Disney's last visits to his studio headquarters, he, who was in his last stages of lung cancer, was asked if he didn't want to discuss some company business.  His response was: "I'm not working now.  I just want to sit here and talk to Marc."  After their conversation, Disney walked to the door and turned to say to Davis, "Goodbye, Marc."  Davis had never heard Walt say goodbye before."  (353)  Shortly after, Disney died on December 15.

Marc Davis, outliving Walt Disney by 35 years, worked at the company until 1978.  In 1988 he was officially designated a “Disney Legend", which meant he was honored at a special ceremony by the Company with the award to "recognize men and women who have made an extraordinary and integral contribution to The Walt Disney Company." (Wikipedia) 

Davis died in Glendale, California in 2000.

Bob Thomas, Walt Disney, An American Legend, 1994, The Walt Disney Company
Edan Hughes, Artists in California Before 1940

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Marc Davis was born in Bakersfield, CA on March 30, 1913.  During the 1930s he studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.  He became an apprentice animator at Disney Studios in 1935 and remained for 43 years.

While there, he created such characters as Sleeping Beauty, Tinker Bell, and Cinderella.  Later, as an Imagineer, he helped create many of the theme park attractions.

In 1988 the Disney Company officially designated Davis as a “Disney Legend.” He died in Glendale, CA on Jan. 12, 2000. Exh: LA AA, 1947.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
SF Chronicle, 1-14-2000 (obituary).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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