Wolfgang Reitherman (26 June 1909 – 22 May 1985), also known and sometimes credited as Woolie Reitherman, was a Disney animator and one of Disney's Nine Old Men.
Reitherman began working for Disney in 1934, along with future Disney legends Ward Kimball and Milt Kahl. The three worked together on a number of classic Disney shorts, including The Band Concert, Music Land, and Elmer Elephant and in all, Reitherman worked on various Disney feature films produced from 1937 to 1981, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Slave in the Magic Mirror) to The Fox and the Hound (co-producer). He did the climatic dinosaur fight in Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in Fantasia, the Headless Horseman chase in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" section in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, the Crocodile in Peter Pan, and Maleficent as a dragon in Sleeping Beauty (the former three he animated and the latter he directed).
Beginning with 1961's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, "Woolie", as he was called by friends, served as Disney's chief animation director. One of Reitherman's productions, the 1968 short Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. He also served as a producer and sequence director, and starred as himself in the 1941 feature film The Reluctant Dragon. All three of Reitherman's sons — Bruce, Richard and Robert — provided voices for Disney characters, including Mowgli in The Jungle Book, Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, and Wart in The Sword in the Stone.
Reitherman directed several Disney animated feature films including: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), The Sword in the Stone (1963), The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), Robin Hood (1973), and The Rescuers (1977).
Personal life and death
Born in Munich, Germany, Reitherman's family moved to America when he was a child. After attending Pasadena Junior College and briefly working as a draftsman for Douglas Aircraft, Reitherman returned to school at the Chouinard Art Institute, graduating in 1933. Reitherman served in World War II for the United States Air Force, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross after serving in Africa, China, India and the South Pacific. Reitherman died in a single-car accident near his Burbank, California home in 1985, aged 75. Reitherman was posthumously named a Disney Legend in 1989.
- ^ Disney legend Wolfgang Reitherman profile, d23.com; accessed 21 January 2016.