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Life and career
Ken Harris was born in Tulare Co. California. His first job as an animator was for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, where he worked from 1927 to the 1930s. Harris's best remembered work was at Warner Bros. Cartoons under the supervision of director Chuck Jones; this association began in 1936 and lasted until 1962. Jones described him as "... a virtuoso. Ken Harris did it all."
After Jones left Warner's, Harris worked with former animator Phil Monroe on two cartoons before Warner Bros. closed its cartoon department. In 1963, Harris worked briefly for Friz Freleng on the titles of The Pink Panther (1963), then for Hanna-Barbera on their first feature film Hey There It's Yogi Bear! (1964), then rejoined Jones at M-G-M for three years. After work as an animator on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) — directed by Jones, a longtime friend of Dr. Seuss — Harris came to the studio of independent animator Richard Williams in London. There he served as William's mentor as well as his employee. Harris's credits with him included A Christmas Carol (1971) — as animator of Ebenezer Scrooge — the opening titles of The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), and the still-unfinished animated feature The Thief and the Cobbler (animating the Thief of the title, which is very reminiscent of Harris's earlier work animating Wile E. Coyote for Jones).
Among the many scenes Harris has animated: Mama Bear doing an outrageous tap-dance (which Chuck Jones, who directed the cartoon, and who was Harris' longtime collaborator, has said was inspired by Mike Maltese, "who could really dance that way") in A Bear For Punishment; Wile E. Coyote consuming earthquake pills in Hopalong Casualty; as well as the lengthy dance sequence in What's Opera, Doc?.
The animator died on March 24, 1982, from Parkinson's disease in Los Angeles, California. He was 83 years old.
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