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)
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.

The Disney Studio[edit]

Walt Disney complimented Les on the lettering he made for the menus on the mirrors at the candy store. Two years later in 1927, about to graduate from Venice High School, Disney hired him.

Clark graduated from high school on a Thursday and reported to work the following Monday, February 23, 1927. By the time he retired in 1975, Les Clark was a senior animator and director, and the "longest continuously employed member of Walt Disney Productions."

For his first six months he operated the animation camera, then spent a subsequent six months as an inker-painter, tracing hundreds of animation drawings onto sheets of clear celluloid acetate ("cels") in ink with a crow-quill pen and painted them on the reverse side with opaque colors (black, white, and gray only, in the pre-Technicolor days). Ub Iwerks, who became Clark's mentor, was the studio's top animator.


Ub Iwerks animated Steamboat Willie at his usual breakneck speed (it was completed in two months), Clark assisted by in-betweening drawings, and Wilfred Jackson animated a brief scene of Minnie Mouse running along a riverbank.

To handle the increased production load, Walt began recruiting experienced New Yorks animators; Ben Sharpsteen, Burt Gillett, Jack King, and Norman Ferguson ("Fergy") who arrived at the studio between March and August 1929.

Les Clark's debut as an animator came in the first Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance (delivered on May 10, 1929): a scene of a skeleton playing the ribs of a bony buddy like a xylophone.


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[1] 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. ^ 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]