Legendary Disney Toonman Gets One More Bow

Probably no one will dispute that Joe Grant lived a full life. One of Walt Disney’s original animation artists, Grant passed away a month ago at 96.

Later this month, Grant’s family, friends and colleagues will celebrate his life and career on June 28 at The Alex Theatre in Glendale at 7:00 p.m. Among other accomplishments, Grant designed the Queen/Witch character in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and co-wrote Dumbo.  

While Snow White was still in production, Grant was put in charge of creating the studio’s character model department, a think-tank for future animated projects. With his wide knowledge of art and literature, Grant was considered Disney’s top intellectual and had a profound influence on the films that were made. He played a major role on the two projects following Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia (1940). On then latter, he worked closely with Disney, Leopold Stokowski and his creative partner Dick Huemer to select the music and direct the story development.

Earlier this year, Grant attended the Academy Awards, where the humorous short film he had conceived about a narcissistic cat, Lorenzo (directed by Mike Gabriel), was up for a Best Animated Short award.

Historian/film critic Leonard Maltin will serve as host of the memorial. Confirmed participants include: Eric Goldberg (who collaborated with Grant on Fantasia/2000); Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.); David Stainton, president of Walt Disney Feature Animation; producer Don Hahn (The Lion King); writers Burny Mattinson (The Lion King) and Dean DeBlois (Lilio & Stitch) and Roy Disney.

Celebrating Joe Grant is being organized by The Grant Family and Walt Disney Feature Animation. Tickets are available at The Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, California, 91203. 818-243-ALEX (2539) or www.alextheatre.org.