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 Preston Erwin Blair  (1908 - 1995)

About: Preston Erwin Blair


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Lived/Active: California      Known for: animator, cartoon, genre and landscape painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Preston Blair
1908 (Los Angeles, California)
1995 (Soquel, California)


Photo submitted by Austin Taylor

Often Known For
animator, cartoon, genre and landscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Austin Taylor, 11/27/02, who wrote: "I am a student at the Art Institute of Colorado, Denver. I recently had to do a small biography on Preston Blair the animator. I noticed at your site you were lacking in information and were asking for assistance in finding some. Attached is the scant bit of information that I wrote for my professor, and I hope it helps you."

Animator's Home Game: Preston Blair

Preston was born in 1908. He lived most of his life in California. He began his career as an animator working with Al Eugster on Krazy Kat cartoons for the Mintz studio. He later accepted a position at Disney, where he worked doggedly on the Fantasia sequences "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "Dance of the Hours." He was also a principal animator for the features "Bambi" and "Pinocchio".

In the 1940's Preston moved on to MGM where he teamed up with Tex Avery. His most famous work of that period was the character he and Tex created, Red. She was first seen in the cartoon "Red Hot Riding Hood," and went on to star in several more shorts. She was created for the American soldiers during World War Two, and was a smashing success. Unlike Disney's "Snow White", Preston's Red was not based on an actual female body (Snow White was rotoscoped, and graphically flattened to upgrade her cuteness and eliminate any sexuality). She had a sultry voice, lavish curves, and an overtly sexual air about her, that eventually banned her cartoons from television broadcasts.

Preston himself had a unique take on Red. "One of the greatest compliments I have ever received in my life happened on the second or third 'Red' picture. Somebody, at night, stole several of the 'Red' cels right off the camera stand before the cameraman had a chance to photograph them 'Red' was worth stealing wow!"

Tex has said about Preston, "He was good for the dances! He could stir up the bottom without difficulty. AN enormous guy, imposing! But, God, he could make them exquisite!" (Patrick Brion, 29)

Preston then took the helm and directed a series of cartoons for MGM featuring The Bear. After he left MGM, he directed a score of commercials and an episode of the Flintstones.

Preston has published two books on animation, "Animation" and "How to Animate Film Cartoons", both published by Walter Foster. Both books are still sought after by aspiring cartoonists as "must-haves" for their libraries.

Preston died in 1995, at the age of 85, leaving an incredible animated legacy behind.

Bibliography (Preston Blair) (Tex Avery at M.G.M.'s: The girls) (Tex Avery's Red)
A smattering of other tidbits were picked up at numerous other internet locations.

Preston Blair
Animator - filmography
1. Fantasia/2000 (1999)(segment "Sorcerer's Apprentice, The") (animator)
2. Senor Droopy (1949) (animator)
3. Bad Luck Blackie (1949) (animator)
4. Lucky Ducky (1948) (animator)
5. Uncle Tom's Cabana (1947) (animator)
6. Red Hot Rangers (1947) (animator)
7. Hound Hunters (1947) (animator)
8. Henpecked Hoboes (1946) (animator)
9. Northwest Hounded Police (1946) (animator) ... aka Man Hunt, The (1946)
10. Hick Chick, The (1946) (animator)
11. Lonesome Lenny (1946) (animator)
12. Wild and Woolfy (1945) (animator) ... aka Robinson's Screwball (1945)
13. Swing Shift Cinderella (1945) (animator) ... aka Swingshift Cinderella (1945) (USA: poster title)
14. Shooting of Dan McGoo, The (1945) (animator) ... aka Shooting of Dan McScrew, The (1945)
15. Jerky Turkey (1945) (animator)
16. Screwy Truant, The (1945) (animator)
17. Big Heel-Watha (1944) (animator) ... aka Buck of the Month (1944)
18. Happy-Go-Nutty (1944) (animator)
19. Batty Baseball (1944) (animator)
20. Screwball Squirrel (1944) (animator)
21. What's Buzzin' Buzzard? (1943) (animator)
22. One Ham's Family (1943) (animator)
23. Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)(uncredited) (animator)
24. Early Bird Dood It!, The (1942) (animator)
25. Blitz Wolf (1942) (animator)
26. Bambi (1942) (animator)
27. Fantasia (1940)(segments "Sorcerer's Apprentice, The" and "Dance of the Hours") (animator)
28. Pinocchio (1940) (animator)
29. Antique Antics (1933) (animator)
30. Bunnies and Bonnets (1933) (animator)
31. Wooden Shoes (1933) (animator)
32. Wedding Bells (1933) (animator)
33. Minstrel Show, The (1932) (animator)
34. Prosperity Blues (1932) (animator)
35. Little House Keeping (1932) (animator)

Director - filmography
1. Goggle Fishing Bear (1949) ... aka Goggle Fishing (1949)
2. Bear and the Hare, The (1948) ... aka Snowshoe Baby (1948)
3. Bear and the Bean, The (1948)

Producer - filmography
1. Journey Back to Oz (1971) (associate producer)

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Los Angeles, CA on Oct. 24, 1908, Preston Blair studied with Pruett Carter at the Chouinard Art School and with Roscoe Shrader at the Otis Art Institute.  From 1937, he was associated with the movie and television industries as an animated film artist and producer.

With his brother, Lee Blair, he was an animator in Disney's Fantasia.  He was the author of several texts on the art of animation and the holder of five patents on interactive animation television systems.  Upon retirement in 1985 he moved to Carmel, CA.

He died nearby in Soquel on April 19, 1995.

Calif. WC Society, 1942-47; American WC Society; Laguna Beach AA, 1944, 1945 (prize); LACMA, 1945; Disney Art Retrospective, Whitney Museum (NYC), 1983.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who's Who in American Art 1947; Interview with the artist or his/her family.
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.

Biography from California Watercolor:
Preston Blair (1908-1995) Born: Los Angeles, CA; Studied: Los Angeles Art Institute, Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles);

Member: American Watercolor Society, California Water Color Society. Preston Blair grew up in Southern California and studied art with Roscoe Shrader and Pruett Carter during the early 1930s. In the following years, he began a long career in the animation art business.  His first job was at Universal drawing Oswald the Rabbit, then at the Charles Mintz Studio working on Krazy Cat cartoons.

By the mid-1930s, he was working for the Walt Disney Studios producing art for Pinocchio and Fantasia, and then in the 1940s, worked on Tex Avery’s masterworks of animation art at M.G.M. Studios.

He wrote two books for Walter Foster Art Books respectively titled How to Animate Film Cartoons and Animation. He also produced animated television commercials in the 1950s and 1960s, then in the 1970s and 1980s created and designed interactive video games. Throughout his career Blair painted and exhibited fine at watercolors in the annual American Watercolor Society shows.

Biographical information:
Interview with Preston Blair, 1985

Biography courtesy of California Watercolors 1850-1970,
©2002 Hillcrest Press, Inc.

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