Glen Keane

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Glen Keane
Glen Keane at the Dreams Come True exhibition at ACMI on November 19, 2010.
Born (1954-04-13) April 13, 1954 (age 64)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Occupation Animator
illustrator cartoonist
Years active 1973–present
Linda Hesselroth (m. 1975)
Children Claire Keane
Max Keane

Glen Keane (born April 13, 1954) is an American animator, author and illustrator. Keane was a character animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios for feature films including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan and Tangled. Keane received the 1992 Annie Award for character animation, the 2007 Winsor McCay Award for lifetime contribution to the field of animation and in 2013 was named a Disney Legend.

In 2017, Keane directed Dear Basketball, an animated short film based on Kobe Bryant's retirement poem in The Players' Tribune. At the 90th Academy Awards, Keane and Bryant won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for their work on Dear Basketball.

Early life[edit]

Keane was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of cartoonist Bil Keane, creator of The Family Circus, and Australian-born Thelma Keane. He was raised in Paradise Valley, Arizona.[1]

Keane's interest in art developed as a child by observing his father's work as a cartoonist.[2] (Glen's younger self is represented in his father's comic strip as the character of "Billy"). In his early attempts to draw, his father gave him a copy of Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy, and instructed him to analyze the body forms and the creative approach to life drawing. After graduating from high school at Brophy College Preparatory, Keane applied to the California Institute of the Arts-School of Art, opting out of accepting a football scholarship from another college. His application was accidentally sent to the Program in Experimental Animation (then called Film Graphics), where he was mentored by Jules Engel.[2]


Glen Keane demonstrating storyboarding

Keane left CalArts in 1974 and joined Disney the same year. His debut work, which was created over a 3-year period, was featured in The Rescuers, for which he was an animator for the characters of Bernard and Penny, alongside the famed Ollie Johnston. In 1975, during the production of his debut film, Keane married Linda Hesselroth, and they are the parents of design artist Claire Keane, and computer graphics artist Max Keane.

After The Rescuers was completed, Keane went on to animate Elliott the Dragon in Pete's Dragon. Keane also animated the climactic bear showdown in The Fox and the Hound. In 1982, after being inspired by the groundbreaking film Tron, Keane collaborated with fellow animator John Lasseter (Toy Story, Toy Story 2) on a 30-second test scene of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, which was optioned for them by Disney executive Tom Wilhite.[3] The test integrated traditional character animation and computer-generated backgrounds (Video on YouTube), and, like Tron, was a cooperation with MAGI. It was also Disney's first experimentation with digital inked and painted characters.[4] But, the project turned out to be too expensive, and the studio was unwilling to invest further in the planned featurette. The test for Where the Wild Things Are was revolutionary for its time, and a predecessor to the famous ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast.

In 1983, Keane left Disney as a contracted employee and worked as a freelance artist.[2] During this time, he worked on the character of Professor Ratigan in Disney's The Great Mouse Detective. He also served as an animator on The Chipmunk Adventure where he did the sequences of "Boys and Girls of Rock n' Roll" and "Getting Lucky". He returned to Disney to work on the characters of Fagin, Sykes and Georgette for Oliver & Company. Keane rose to lead character animator, becoming one of the group of young animators who were trained by and succeeded "Disney's Nine Old Men". Keane animated some of Disney's most memorable characters in what has been referred to as the "New "Golden Age" of Disney Animation.[5][self-published source] Keane designed and animated the character of Ariel in the film The Little Mermaid (1989), then the eagle Marahute in The Rescuers Down Under. Subsequently, Keane worked as the supervising animator on the title characters for three Disney hit features: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas.

While living with his family in Paris, France for three years, Keane completed work on Disney's 1999 Tarzan for which he drew the eponymous character. Keane then returned to Disney's Burbank studio as the lead animator for John Silver in Treasure Planet. In 2003, Keane began work as the director of Disney's CGI animated film Tangled (based on the Brothers Grimm story Rapunzel), which released in November 2010. In Tangled, Glen and his team hoped to bring the unique style and warmth of traditional animation to computer animation. In October 2008, due to some "non-life threatening health issues", Keane stepped back as director of Tangled, but remained the film's executive producer and an animating director.[6]

On March 23, 2012, having worked approximately 37 years at Disney, Glen Keane left Walt Disney Animation Studios. Keane said in a letter sent to his co-workers, “I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me – Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston – as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years. I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist its siren call to step out and discover them.”[7]

In December 2013, it was announced that he had joined Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects Group and is cooperating with its engineers to create interactive hand-drawn animation.[8][9] Keane released his first animated short- Duet- at the Google I/O Conference in San Francisco on June 25, 2014. It is the first hand-drawn cartoon made with 60 fps,[10] and the third in a series of shorts called the Spotlight Stories that are designed to explore spatial awareness and the sensory inputs of a mobile device to create a distinctive storytelling experience.[11]

Motorola was a subsidiary of Google when Keane joined. When Google sold Motorola in 2014 early, his group remained with Google.[12]

In 2015, it was revealed he, and 16 other top artists and filmmakers, had been hired by the Paris Opera to work on their 3rd Stage project. Glen Keane is the creator of the animated short called Nephtali, a reference to Jacob’s blessings and Psalm 42, and made in a choreography with ballet dancer Marion Barbeau.[13]

In addition to his work as an animator, Keane is a self-proclaimed Christian,[14] and the author and illustrator of a series of children's books on Bible parables featuring the characters Adam Raccoon and King Aren the Lion.

Keane is set to direct the upcoming Chinese animated film, Over the Moon, which is about a girl named Fei Fei who builds a rocket and flies to the moon in order to meet a legendary moon goddess. The film is written by Audrey Wells, and is set to be released on Netflix in 2020.[15][16][17]

At the 2018 Oscars, he won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film along with Kobe Bryant for Dear Basketball.[18] On May 26, 2018 he was awarded the 2017 Reuben Award for the Cartoonist of the Year [19] in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA.


Year Title Credits Characters Notes
1973 My Favorite Martians Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Star Trek: The Animated Series Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Lassie's Rescue Rangers Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Mission: Magic! Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
1977 The Rescuers Character Animator
Pete's Dragon Character Animator Elliott the Dragon
1979 A Family Circus Christmas (TV Movie short) Animator / Models
1981 The Fox and the Hound Supervising Animator Tod, Vixey, The Bear, and Mr. Digger
1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol (Short) Animator Scrooge McDuck, Goofy and Willie the Giant
1985 The Black Cauldron Character Animator Gurgi and Princess Eilonwy
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Supervising Animator Professor Ratigan
1987 The Chipmunk Adventure Animator / Storyboard Artist
The Brave Little Toaster Character Designer / Developmental Animator / Directing Animator Toaster, Blanky, Chris
1988 Oliver & Company Character Designer / Supervising Animator Sykes, Georgette, Fagin, and Jenny Foxworth
1989 The Little Mermaid Character Designer / Supervising Animator Ariel
1990 The Rescuers Down Under Storyboard Artist / Supervising Animator / Character Designer / Visual Development Marahute
1991 Beauty and the Beast Character Designer / Supervising Animator Beast
1992 Aladdin Supervising Animator Aladdin
1995 Pocahontas Story / Supervising Animator / Visual Development / Character Designer Pocahontas
1999 Tarzan Story / Supervising Animator Tarzan
2002 Treasure Planet Supervising Animator Long John Silver, Captain Amelia, and Scroop
2003 Mickey's PhilharMagic (Short) Animator Ariel
2008 Bolt Special Thanks
2010 Tangled Executive Producer / Animation Supervisor / Character Designer Rapunzel
2011 Adam and Dog (Short) Film Consultant
2012 Paperman (Short) Character Designer
Wreck-It Ralph Additional Visual Development
2014 Duet (Short) Director / Animator
2016 Invasion! (Short) Special Thanks
2017 Dear Basketball (Short) Director / Supervising Animator Kobe Bryant Academy Award for best Short Animation
2020 Over the Moon Director Feature directorial debut[15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ghez, Didier (Fall 1998). "Glen Keane: An Interview". Animation Journal. 7 (1): 52–69. ISSN 1061-0308. OCLC 25161230. 
  2. ^ a b c Ghez, Didier, "Interview with Glen Keane". Walt Disney Feature Animation France, Montreuil: May 2, 1997 retrieved 2008-08-10
  3. ^ Paik, Karen; Iwerks, Leslie (November 2007). To infinity and beyond!: the story of Pixar Animation Studios. Chronicle Books. pp. 38–39. ISBN 0-8118-5012-9. 
  4. ^ "A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation". Archived from the original on January 26, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Ghez, Didier (2011). Walt's People: Talking Disney With the Artists Who Knew Him. 11. Xlibris. pp. 502–562. ISBN 9781465368409. 
  6. ^ Glen Keane leaving Disney's RAPUNZEL. Who's stepping up?, Disney in-house memo, Ain't It Cool News, October 9, 2008
  7. ^ Anderson, Paul (March 25, 2012). "Glen Keane quits Disney Animation after 38 years". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  8. ^ Disney legend Glen Keane joins Spotlight Stories Archived February 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ It’s Official: Glen Keane Joins Motorola to Direct Interactive Hand-Drawn Short Film
  10. ^ Veteran Animator Glen Keane on His ‘Duet’ With Google
  11. ^ Koch, Dave (June 28, 2014). "Glen Keane's Animated Poem Duet". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ Finley, Klint (June 30, 2014). "Motorola's 'Mad Science' Department Will Stay With Google". Wired. 
  13. ^ Glen Keane Creates ‘Nephtali' Short for the Paris Opera
  14. ^ Once Upon A Time - Christianity Today
  15. ^ a b Amidi, Amid (February 6, 2018). "Glen Keane Will Direct 'Over The Moon' For Pearl Studio And Netflix". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved February 7, 2018. 
  16. ^ Evry, Max (February 6, 2018). "Disney Animator Glen Keane to Direct Netflix's Over the Moon". Retrieved February 7, 2018. 
  17. ^ Pearl Studio Enters the World Stage with Full Slate of Features at Annecy Studio Focus Session
  18. ^ Mumford, Gwilym (2018-03-05). "Kobe Bryant's Dear Basketball wins best animated short film at Oscars 2018". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  19. ^ National Cartoonists Society (2018-05-30). "2017 Reuben Award Winner: Glen Keane". 

External links[edit]

• Original illustrations from his children's books at