|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2007)|
October 15, 1891|
Elmira, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 28, 1971
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
He was born in Elmira, New York. His animation career started around 1916 when he was employed by the International Film Service, an early animation studio under the ownership of William Randolph Hearst and the supervision of Gregory La Cava. The studio had been formed in 1915 and first employed experienced animators Frank Moser and William Nolan. Within a year the veterans had been joined by several new recruits. Gillett was probably recruited along with notable co-workers John Foster, Jack King, Isadore Klein, Walter Lantz, Grim Natwick, Ben Sharpsteen and Vernon Stallings.
In 1929, Gillett joined the Walt Disney Studio where he started out primarily working on Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts. However, by 1930 he directed Cannibal Capers, the first of 15 Silly Symphonies shorts to his credit. The shorts directed by Gillett included two Academy Award winners (Flowers and Trees and The Three Little Pigs) and also featured important firsts such as the introduction of the Pluto character and the first animated short to be produced in full-color three-strip Technicolor.
Due to the success of The Three Little Pigs, Gillett was recruited to run the Van Beuren Studios in 1934. While working at the Van Beuren Studios, Gillett directed the Technicolor Rainbow Parade animated shorts featuring Molly Moo-Cow, Toonerville Folks and several color Felix the Cat cartoons. He also was the one that hired Joseph Barbera for 25 US$ a week.
When that studio closed in 1936, Gillett returned to Disney. He moved to Walter Lantz Productions in 1938, where he directed and wrote cartoons, sometimes using the pseudonym "Gil Burton". Gillett left the animation business in 1940.
According to fellow animator Shamus Culhane, Gillett was mentally unstable. In his autobiography, Culhane speculates that Gillett suffered from bipolar disorder and notes that he swung from excessive enthusiasm to violent rages to paranoia (once attacking Culhane himself with a spindle when they worked together at Van Beuren's studio), and that he was eventually institutionalized for many years. However, others who knew people Culhane mentioned in his book said that his statements in the book were not always the truth.
- "Molly Moo-Cow entry". Toonopedia.
- Joseph Barbera: My Life in 'Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century, Turner Pub, Nashville 1995, ISBN 978-1-57036-042-8, p. 45
- "June 1998 Newsletter". ASIFA - San Francisco.
- A Life in the Shadows