Marc Davis (animator)

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Marc Davis
Marc Davis (animator).jpg
Born(1913-03-30)March 30, 1913
DiedJanuary 12, 2000(2000-01-12) (aged 86)
Alma materKansas City Art Institute
OccupationAnimator, imagineer
Years active1937–1978
Known forOne of Disney's Nine Old Men
AwardsWinsor McCay Award, 1982
Disney Legends, 1989

Marc Fraser Davis (March 30, 1913 – January 12, 2000) was a prominent American artist and animator for Walt Disney Animation Studios. He was one of Disney's Nine Old Men, the famed core animators of Disney animated films, and was revered for his knowledge and understanding of visual aesthetics. After his work on One Hundred and One Dalmatians he moved to Walt Disney Imagineering to work on rides for Disneyland and Walt Disney World before retiring in 1978.[1]

Walt Disney once said of Davis, "Marc can do story, he can do character, he can animate, he can design shows for me. All I have to do is tell him what I want and it's there! He's my Renaissance man." [2][3]

Early life[edit]

Davis was born in Bakersfield, CA on March 30, 1913, to a Jewish family. The family moved a lot, so Davis was in 26 schools before he was in high school. As a child, schoolyard bullies were an impetus for Davis to start drawing. He found when he drew that the other kids wanted his art, and the bullies wouldn't beat him up.[4] Davis studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. As a student, he spent his days sketching zoo animals; in the evening, he studied animal anatomy at the public library.[5]

Disney animator[edit]

Marc Davis began his Disney career in 1935 as an animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and was responsible for many Disney characters, becoming so regarded for his work on female characters that he was called "ladies' man".[6]

The most significant characters he designed and animated are :

Walt Disney Imagineering[edit]

Davis, a brilliant draftsman, also designed the characters for many Disneyland rides and show animatronics:

Personal life[edit]

As a professor at the Chouinard Art Institute Davis first met Alice Estes as a student there in 1947. After her graduation, they married in June 1956, and remained so for 44 years until his passing in 2000.[7][8]

Awards and Honors[edit]

In 1982, Davis was the recipient of the Winsor McCay Award.[9] In 1985, Davis was the recipient of the Golden Award for 50 years of service from the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists.[10][11] In 1989, he was inducted as a Disney Legend.[12] In 1993, Davis was the recipient of the DFC Disney Legend Award given by the Disneyana Fan Club.[13] He was also the recipient of the much-coveted Mousecar (the Disney equivalent of an Oscar).[14] Davis, along with his wife Alice, received the honor of having their names on side-by-side windows on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland. Marc's reads: “Far East Imports – Exotic Art – Marc Davis – Proprietor”.[7]


Starting in 1994, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has annually presented the Marc Davis Lecture on Animation series featuring noted creators and luminaries in the industry.[5][15][16]

Davis died on January 12, 2000.[17] That same month, the Marc Fraser Davis Scholarship Fund was formally established at the California Institute of the Arts.

In 2014, the Walt Disney Family Museum presented the exhibition Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Marc Davis.[18][19][20]

In October 2014, Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man ISBN 978-1423184188, a hardcover book focused on Davis' art and career, was published by Disney Editions.[21][22][23] This was followed by the September 2019 release of Marc Davis in His Own Words: Imagineering the Disney Parks ISBN 978-1484755754, a two-volume hardcover set covering his work at WED.


  1. ^ In His Own Words: Marc Davis
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  11. ^ Who's who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television's Award-winning and Legendary Animators By Jeff Lenburg Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006
  12. ^ "Marc Davis". Disney Legends. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
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  14. ^ Willis, Christian (20 October 2001). "An Interview with Alice Davis". Song of the South.
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  17. ^ Pace, Eric (16 January 2000). "Marc Davis, Master Animator For Walt Disney, Dies at 86". The New York Times.
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External links[edit]