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Ron Clements

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Ron Clements
Ronald Francis Clements[1]

(1953-04-25) April 25, 1953 (age 71)
  • Animator
  • film director
  • screenwriter
  • film producer
Years active1972–present
Tamara Lee Glumace
(m. 1989)

Ronald Francis Clements (born April 25, 1953) is an American animator, film director, screenwriter, and film producer. He often collaborates with fellow director John Musker and is best known for writing and directing the Disney films The Great Mouse Detective (1986), The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), Hercules (1997), Treasure Planet (2002), The Princess and the Frog (2009), and Moana (2016).

Life and career[edit]

Clements was born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa, the son of Gertrude (née Gereau) and Joseph Clements.[1] He graduated from Bishop Heelan Catholic High School. One of his first jobs in the arts was working with the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre.[2]

Clements began his career as an animator for Hanna-Barbera. After a few months there, he was accepted into Disney's Talent Development Program, an animator training ground and workshop. After that, he served a two-year apprenticeship with famed animator Frank Thomas, a supervising animator of Disney films such as Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955), and The Aristocats (1970). Clements made his feature debut as a character animator on The Rescuers and Pete's Dragon in 1977. In 1981, he became the supervising animator on The Fox and the Hound. Future partner John Musker worked as a character animator under him, and Clements later teamed up with Musker as story artists on The Black Cauldron before they were removed from the project.[3] In 1982, Clements proposed adapting the children's book series Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus into an animated feature and, along with story artist Pete Young, it was pitched to Ron Miller.[4] Because the animators were displeased with the direction of The Black Cauldron was heading, Basil of Baker Street was approved as an alternative project.[5] Burny Mattinson and Musker were assigned as the original directors while Dave Michener was brought in as an additional director. Due to a shortened production schedule and multiple story rewrites, Roy E. Disney assigned Mattinson to serve as director/producer while Clements was brought in as another director.[5]

While working on The Great Mouse Detective, newly appointed Disney CEO and chairman Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg issued invitations to the animation staff for their first held "gong show" session. Demanding only five new ideas, Clements went to a bookstore and discovered Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. Clements wrote and presented a two-page treatment of Mermaid to Disney Studios Chief Jeffrey Katzenberg at a "gong show" idea suggestion meeting, as well as conceptualized the idea of Treasure Planet. At the gong show session, Mermaid was rejected for its similarities to Splash while Planet was rejected by Eisner because Paramount Pictures was developing a Star Trek sequel with a Treasure Island angle (that went eventually unproduced).[6] The next morning, Katzenberg approached Clements and asked him to expand his initial treatment. With Mermaid in production in 1986, Clements and Musker were later joined by Off-Broadway musical composers Howard Ashman and Alan Menken who collaborated on the song and musical score.[7] Released in November 1989, The Little Mermaid was praised as a milestone in rebirth of Disney animation by film critics and collected a domestic gross of $84 million,[8] cumulatively receiving $184.2 million worldwide.[9] When work on Mermaid was wrapped, Clements and Musker re-developed their idea for Treasure Planet,[10] but the studio still expressed disinterest. Instead, the two directors were offered three projects in development: Swan Lake, King of the Jungle, and Aladdin.[11] The directors chose Aladdin because they thought the story would suit a wackier, faster-paced, and more contemporary mood than that found in then-recent Disney animated films.[12]

Working from Ashman and Menken's treatment and musical score, the two delivered a story reel to Katzenberg in April 1991, which was strongly disapproved of.[12] Jettisoning multiple characters and story ideas and adding Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio as co-screenwriters, the production team restructured the entire story in eight days.[13] Released in November 1992, Aladdin received positive reviews from critics, and became the first animated film to gross over $200 million domestically.[14] Following work on Aladdin, Clements, along with Musker, resumed their work on Treasure Planet, which was again turned down by Katzenberg in 1993, who disapproved of setting the adaptation of a classic adventure tale in outer space.[10] A deal was struck with the two directors to create another commercial film before he would approve Treasure Planet. Rejecting projects in development such as Don Quixote, The Odyssey, and Around the World in Eighty Days, they were later informed of animator Joe Haidar's pitch for a Hercules feature, and signed onto the project.[15] During production on Hercules, in 1995, Clements and Musker signed a seven-year contract deal with the studio which stipulated following Hercules, the studio would produce Treasure Planet or another project of their choosing.[10]

Treasure Planet was eventually approved for production and subsequently released in 2002 to mixed critical reception.[16] The film performed poorly at the box office, costing $140 million to create while earning only $38 million in the United States and Canada and just shy of $110 million worldwide.[17] Despite this, it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, marking his first Academy Award nomination.[18]

Following Treasure Planet, Clements and Musker later inherited Fraidy Cat, which was originally a project developed by Dutch animation director Piet Kroon.[19] However, David Stainton, then-president of Walt Disney Feature Animation, refused to green-light the project,[20] which was followed with Clements and Musker's resignation from Disney in September 2005.[21] When John Lasseter was appointed chief creative officer over Disney Feature Animation in February 2006, he invited Clements and Musker back to Disney to oversee production on The Frog Princess,[22] and were officially confirmed as directors in the following July.[23] Later re-titled The Princess and the Frog, the film received positive reviews and grossed $267 million worldwide.[24]

After directing The Princess and the Frog, Clements and Musker started working on an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Mort,[25] but obtaining the film rights prevented them from continuing with the project.[26] To avoid similar problems, they pitched three new ideas, where by 2011, the two directors started developing the film based on an original idea.[26] In late 2012, the duo announced that they will be directing a new film in the future, but they have their lips sealed for the title, the plot, and the animation style. In July 2013, it was revealed that the film, titled Moana, would be "a Polynesian tale involving the island folk and the idols made famous the world over".[27] On November 10, 2014, Disney confirmed Moana would be released on November 23, 2016.[28]


Clement's short film Shades of Sherlock Holmes was preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2012.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Clements has been married to his wife Tamara Lee Glumace, since February 25, 1989.[1]


Feature films[edit]

Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer Animator Other Notes
1977 The Rescuers No No No Character No uncredited
Pete's Dragon No No No Character No
1981 The Fox and the Hound No No No Supervising No
1985 The Black Cauldron No No No No Yes Additional story contributor
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Yes Story No No No
1989 The Little Mermaid Yes Yes No No Yes Various voices - uncredited
1992 Aladdin Yes Screenplay Yes No Yes Additional voices - uncredited
1997 Hercules Yes Screenplay Yes No No
2002 Treasure Planet Yes Yes Yes No Yes Developer - uncredited
2008 Bolt No No No No Yes Special thanks
2009 The Princess and the Frog Yes Yes No No No
2014 Big Hero 6 No No No No Yes Creative leadership
2016 Zootopia No No No No Yes
Moana Yes Story No No Yes
2018 Ralph Breaks the Internet No No No No Yes
2019 Aladdin No No No No Yes "Based on" credit
Frozen II No No No No Yes Creative leadership
TBA Metal Men Yes Yes Yes No No

Short films[edit]

Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer Animator Layout
Other Role Notes
1972 Shades of Sherlock Holmes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Sherlock Holmes Music arrangement
1982 Luau No No No No No No Yes Special thanks
2008 Jack's Gift No No No No No No Yes Paramedic
2017 Gone Fishing[30] Yes No No No No No No


Year Title Role
2007 The Pixar Story Himself
2009 Waking Sleeping Beauty
2018 Howard
2020 Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II

Awards and nominations[edit]

Ceremony Category Recipient Result
Edgar Allan Poe Award Best Motion Picture Nominated
Best Animated Film Won
Annie Awards Best Individual Achievement: Directing in a Feature Production Won
Best Individual Achievement: Producing in a Feature Production Won
Best Animated Feature Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Best Animated Film Won
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
The Princess and the Frog Nominated
African-American Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay Won
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Animated Feature Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated


John Musker and Clements have cast certain actors in more than one of their films.

The Great
Mouse Detective
The Little
Aladdin Hercules Treasure
The Princess
and the Frog
Charlie Adler
Jack Angel
Rodger Bumpass
Corey Burton
Jim Cummings
Keith David
Mona Marshall
Debi Derryberry
Paddi Edwards
Jennifer Darling
Sherry Lynn
Patrick Pinney
Bob Bergen
Phil Proctor
Frank Welker


  1. ^ a b c d "Ronald (Francis) Clements Biography (1953-)". Film Reference. Advameg Inc.
  2. ^ Miller, Bruce (April 15, 2023). "'A Whole (other) New World': Disney director Ron Clements talks 'Aladdin,' retirement". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  3. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 117.
  4. ^ Hulett 2014, p. 51.
  5. ^ a b Korkis, Jim (February 23, 2011). "How Basil Saved Disney Feature Animation: Part One". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 12, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  6. ^ Stewart 2005, pp. 93–94.
  7. ^ Stewart 2005.
  8. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 120.
  9. ^ "1989 Worldwide Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Verrier, Richard; Eller, Claudia (December 6, 2002). "Disney's 'Treasure Planet' an Adventure in Losing Money". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  11. ^ Ron Clements; John Musker (October 13, 2015). "Everything you ever wanted to know about Aladdin" (Interview). Interviewed by Josh Labrecque. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Rhodes, Joe (November 8, 1992). "COVER STORY : What Would Walt Say? : The credits read Disney, but 'Aladdin' is a brand-new 'toon, an irreverent high-stakes gamble that veers sharply from tradition". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  13. ^ John Musker, Ron Clements, Eric Goldberg, Amy Pell, Ed Gombert, Terry Rossio, Ted Elliot (2004). Reflections On Black Friday (DVD). Walt Disney Home Video.
  14. ^ Fox, David J. (April 21, 1993). "'Aladdin' Becomes a $200-Million Genie for Disney". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  15. ^ Hill, Jim (April 5, 2001). "Who the hell do we get to play Hades?". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  16. ^ "Treasure Planet (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on May 29, 2019. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  17. ^ Eller, Claudia (January 15, 2014). "The costliest box office flops of all time". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 7, 2019. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  18. ^ "2002 (75th)". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved December 11, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Lowe, R. Kinsey (April 5, 2004). "Bad day in the barnyard". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  20. ^ Hill, Jim (August 17, 2005). "Why was the head of WDFA afraid to put "Fraidy Cat" into production?". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  21. ^ Sito, Tom (March 14, 2006). "The Late, Great, 2D Animation Renaissance — Part 2". Animation World Network. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  22. ^ Ron Clements; John Musker (March 11, 2010). "An Interview with John Musker and Ron Clements". DVD Dizzy (Interview). Interviewed by Luke Bannano. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  23. ^ "Comic-Con Sees Stars, 2D Officially Back at Disney". Animation World Network. July 23, 2006. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  24. ^ "The Princess and the Frog (2009) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  25. ^ Connelly, Brendon (April 6, 2013). "What Disney's Film Of Terry Pratchett's Mort Might Have Looked Like... And A Preview Of Things To Come". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  26. ^ a b Miller, Bruce (August 24, 2013). "Sioux City native Ron Clements preps new film for Disney studio". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  27. ^ Jardine, William (July 11, 2013). "Tonnes of New Details Revealed About Disney's Upcoming Slate!". Big Screen Animation. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  28. ^ Lang, Brent (November 10, 2014). "Disney Animation's 'Zootopia,' 'Moana' Hitting Theaters in 2016". Variety. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  29. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  30. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (January 13, 2017). "'Moana' Sails Home on Digital HD February 21 and Blu-ray March 7". Animation World Network. Retrieved December 12, 2020.


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