Marc Davis


Animator, artist, Imagineer are just a few words used to describe Disney superstar Marc Davis. Marc dedicated his creative genius and his life’s work to helping Walt Disney realize his dreams, ranging from perfecting the animated story to creating the world’s first theme park, Disneyland. About his years at Disney, Marc once said, “I rarely felt confined to the animation medium. I worked as an idea man and loved creating characters, whether they be for animation or any other medium.” Continue after the page break for more on the great Marc Davis…

Marc is probably best known as the creator of some of Disney’s most memorable animated women, including Cruella De Vil in “101 Dalmatians,” Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty” and Tinker Bell in “Peter Pan.” When once asked to choose a favorite among his bevy of grand Disney dames, he replied, “Each of my women characters has her own unique style; I love them all in different ways.”

After high school, he enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute, followed by the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. While studying, Marc spent hours at the zoo drawing animals, which became one of his specialties. His story drawings for “Bambi” are still considered some of the finest studies of animal characters ever created at Disney Studios.

Marc joined Disney in 1935 as an apprentice animator on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and moved on to story sketch and character design on “Bambi” and “Victory Through Air Power.” Over the years, he animated on such Disney classic features as “Song of the South,” “Cinderella” and “Alice in Wonderland,” as well as shorts, including “African Diary,” “Duck Pimples” and “Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom.”

He later transferred to Disney’s design and development organization, today known as Walt Disney Imagineering. As one of Disney’s original Imagineers, Marc contributed whimsical story and character concepts for such Disneyland attractions as the Enchanted Tiki Room, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and The Jungle Cruise.
After 43 years with the Studio, Marc retired in 1978, but continued to lend his expertise to the development of EPCOT and Tokyo Disneyland. He and his wife, Alice Davis, who designed costumes for Audio-Animatronics characters featured in Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World and just received a window on Main Street next to Marc, have been long-time supporters of California Institute of the Arts, which was founded by Walt Disney.

Sadly, Marc Davis passed away on January 12, 2000, in Glendale, California. That same month the Marc Fraser Davis Scholarship Fund formally was established at the California Institute of the Arts. His dedication to Walt’s dream and the amazing work he left is inspiring. Davis was regarded as one of the top talents ever to work in the animation medium and one of Disney’s all-time greatest animators and Imagineers. 
Now for a video featuring Marc Davis explaining his most famous Disney creations:


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