D23 Expo 2017: Marc Davis, the Artist

#96: D23 Expo 2017 Marc Davis goes to WED

D23 Expo 2017; Marc Davis Goes to WED, the Amazing Artistry and Designs of the Legendary Disney Imagineer.

D23 Expo 2017: Marc Davis goes to WED - Mac working on Snow White
D23 Expo 2017: Marc Davis goes to WED – Mac working on Snow White

One of Walt’s nine old men, Marc Davis joined Disney in 1935 as an apprentice animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  His first animated credit, the Snow White dancing sequence, was not a bad start.  He moved to sketching and character design for Bambi where he leveraged his background in animal drawings to add “life like” movements to the animals.  After Bambi, Marc stayed with Walt through World War II, working on films like “Victory through Air Power”.  After the war, Marc worked on Song of the South and later became the lead animator behind many of your favorite Disney characters, mostly leading ladies:  From Cinderella to Aurora and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, Thumper and Flower in Bambi, Tinker Bell in Peter Pan and Alice in Alice in Wonderland and his favorite Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians.

After 101 Dalmatians in 1961, Marc Davis was recruited by Walt to become one of the original members of WED Enterprise, as one of the original Imagineers.   Marc was heavily involved in the development of all of the 1964-65 world’s fair attractions:  From the dinosaurs in Fords Magic Skyway, to the family in Carousel of Progress, children of the world in Small World and creating the “illusion” that Abraham Lincoln could stand up.

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #96

After the world’s fair, Marc followed the attractions back to Disneyland where he noted that none of the existing attractions included humor.   He worked on the “re-do” of the Jungle Cruise that included the introduction of humor – could you imagine a Jungle Cruise without humor?

D23 Expo 2017: Marc Davis Tiki Room Concept Art
D23 Expo 2017: Marc Davis Tiki Room Concept Art

Marc went on to heavily influence Tiki Room, The Country Bears, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and become the go to Imagineer of the late 1960s and 70s.  Marc’s whimsical style can be spotted in all of the classic Disney attractions.  Marc retired in 1978 and received the Disney Legend Award in 1989.

D23 Expo 2017: Marc Davis goes to WED - Never before scene picture of Walt Disney inside It's a Small World Model
D23 Expo 2017: Marc Davis goes to WED – Never before scene picture of Walt Disney inside It’s a Small World Model

While Marc’s animation career is well documented, a renewed interest in Marc’s time in the early days of WED has emerged.  With the discovery of some never before seen art work, photographs and attractions that never happened such as Yestermorrow Time Machine, The Fort Wilderness Funhouse, the Garden of Gods and A Silly Symphony attraction, Marc Davis time in Imagineering was a perfect topic for a D23 Expo 2017 panel.  Who better to lead the discussion than Peter Doctor (Pixar Director) and Christopher Merritt (Disney Imagineer), both of which have interviewed Marc personally and have strong connections to Marcs Wife, and fellow Imagineer, Alice Davis.  The focus of the panel and forthcoming book by Peter and Christopher is Marc’s time in Imagineering.  The panel in its entirety is the subject of SamsDisneyDiary Episode #96.  Thanks for watching, and be sure to subscribe for all of the latest.