A Disney animator veteran, Dave Michener, has passed away at 85 years old, from complications due to a virus. He was also a story artist and director from 1956 until 1987 when he retired from The Walt Disney Studios.
Michener was in an exclusive club; he worked with Walt Disney and continued to work for the company post-Walt. He had his hand in many classic animations, such as Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, Mary Poppins, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Fox and the Hound, The Rescuers, and The Jungle Book.
He also co-directed The Great Mouse Detective as one of his final projects. In the picture below, you can see him with co-animators looking at storyboards of the film.
Speaking of his career with Disney, “I have always felt privileged to work for Disney. As a small boy of five or seven years old, my dad brought me out to the studio, and it was instant love. I never really wanted to work anywhere else. When you take an animated character and move an audience to tears, you’ve done a magical thing.”
Michener was brought on by Walt Disney personally after a phone call by Disney to express how impressed he had been with one of Michener’s art exhibits. He was hired on to first assist on the Mickey Mouse Club show before being assigned to work on features. Before the big promotion, he worked under one of the original ‘Nine Old Men,’ Milt Kahl.
Michener also had ties to the Disney Parks. Serving as a contributor on the development of EPCOT Center, he produced and directed almost every animation of characters around the pavilions, from Figment to the American Adventure technology montage. He also had a hand in “Meet the World” attraction for Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland’s PSA pre-show on their history of aviation.
Michener retired from the Disney company on November 30th, 1987.
Photos courtesy of the Walt Disney Company