Les Clark

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Les Clark
Born Leslie James Clark
(1907-11-17)November 17, 1907
Ogden, Utah, U.S.
Died September 12, 1979(1979-09-12) (aged 71)[1]
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Cause of death Cancer
Occupation Animator
Known for One of Disney's Nine Old Men
Spouse(s) Miriam Lauritzen
(m. ?; div. 1952)
Georgia Vester
(m. 1967)
Children 2 Richard Boone Clark

Leslie James "Les" Clark (November 17, 1907 – September 12, 1979) was the first of Disney's Nine Old Men. Joining Disney in 1927, he was the only one to work on the origins of Mickey Mouse with Ub Iwerks.

Early life[edit]

Les Clark was born in Ogden, Utah in 1907, the eldest of 12 children to James Clark, a carpenter,[2] and Lute Wadsworth.[3] By 1910, the family lived in Salt Lake City[2] and by 1920, they lived in Twin Falls, Idaho.[4] By 1930, they lived in Los Angeles,[5] where he attended Venice High School. During high school, he worked a summer job at an ice cream shop near Walt Disney Studios in Hollywood. Walt and Roy Disney were frequent patrons at the shop, and Walt had once complimented Les on his lettering job of the menus. Eventually, Les got the courage to ask Walt for a job. He recalled Walt’s reply:

“...[Walt said] ‘Bring some of your drawings in and let’s see what they look like.’ So, I copied some cartoons and showed them to Walt. He said I had a good line, and why don’t I come to work on Monday".[6]

Les reported to the studio the Monday after he graduated high school for a temporary position.[7]

He and his wife, Miriam, had a son, Richard,[8] and a daughter, Miriam.

Career at Disney Studio[edit]

Les started work at the studio first as a camera operator and doing ink and paint on the animations. He moved on to work under the guidance of Ub Iwerks. During the development of the character Mickey Mouse, Clark was promoted to the position of 'inbetweener' where he worked on a scene for the upcoming Steamboat Willie. Les was then promoted to Animator and was tasked with the iconic scene The Skeleton Dance in Silly Symphony. After Ub Iwerks left Disney, Clark was given the position as lead animator on Mickey Mouse. He continued honing his craft, attending art classes while working at the studio. As he improved, he was given the task of animating The Seven Dwarfs in the upcoming film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in particular, the scene where Snow White dances with each of the seven dwarfs. He would go on to animate the iconic Disney characters Pinocchio, Cindrella, Alice and Tinkerbell.[7]

Animation Style[edit]

Les Clark was known in his style of animating for timing his animation to musical scores as well as his ability to convey emotion in his work.[7]


Les Clark died of cancer in Santa Barbara, CA on September 12, 1979.


Year Film Role character
December 21, 1937 (1937-12-21) (premiere)
February 1938 (1938-02) (United States)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Animator Dwarfs
February 7, 1940 (1940-02-07) Pinocchio Pinocchio
November 13, 1940 (1940-11-13) Fantasia Mickey Mouse, Sugar Plum Fairies
October 31, 1941 (1941-10-31) Dumbo Dumbo, a little bit of Timothy
August 24, 1942 (1942-08-24) (World Premiere-Rio de Janeiro)
February 6, 1943 (1943-02-06) (U.S. Premiere-Boston)
February 19, 1943 (1943-02-19) (U.S.)
Saludos Amigos
December 21, 1944 (1944-12-21) (Mexico City)
February 3, 1945 (1945-02-03) (U.S.)
The Three Caballeros Train to Baia sequence
April 20, 1946 (1946-04-20) (Premiere-New York City)
August 15, 1946 (1946-08-15) (U.S.)
Make Mine Music
November 12, 1946 (1946-11-12) (Premiere-Atlanta)
November 20, 1946 (1946-11-20) (U.S.)
Song of the South Directing Animator Minor Characters
September 27, 1947 (1947-09-27) Fun and Fancy Free Bongo, Lulubelle
May 27, 1948 (1948-05-27) Melody Time Bumble Boogie
January 19, 1949 (1949-01-19) (Premiere-Indianapolis)
January 30, 1949 (1949-01-30) (U.S.)
So Dear to My Heart
October 5, 1949 (1949-10-05) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Animator Ichabod
February 15, 1950 (1950-02-15) (U.S. Premiere-Boston)
March 4, 1949 (1949-03-04) (U.S.)
Cinderella Directing Animator Cinderella, Prince
July 26, 1951 (1951-07-26) (World premiere-London)
July 28, 1951 (1951-07-28) (U.S.)
Alice in Wonderland Alice
February 5, 1953 (1953-02-05) Peter Pan Peter, Wendy Darling, Tiger Lily
November 10, 1953 (1953-11-10) Ben and Me
June 22, 1955 (1955-06-22) Lady and the Tramp Lady as a puppy, Christmas scene at the end
August 1, 1958 (1958-08-01) Paul Bunyan[9] Director
January 29, 1959 (1959-01-29) Sleeping Beauty Sequence Director
June 26, 1959 (1959-06-26) Donald in Mathmagic Land
January 25, 1961 (1961-01-25) One Hundred and One Dalmatians Animator Roger and Anita


  1. ^ https://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=53576523
  2. ^ a b 1910 United States Federal Census
  3. ^ Utah, Birth Certificates, 1903-1911
  4. ^ 1920 United States Federal Census
  5. ^ 1930 United States Federal Census
  6. ^ https://d23.com/walt-disney-legend/les-clark/
  7. ^ a b c http://www.waltdisney.com/tags/les-clark
  8. ^ 1940 United States Federal Census
  9. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (2012-12-31). "Animator Lee Hartman Dies at 82". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  • Canemaker, John. (2001). Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation. New York, NY: Disney Editions. ISBN 0-7868-6496-6

External links[edit]