Veteran Disney artist Vance Gerry died March 5 in Pasadena, Calif. of complications from cancer. He was 75.
A memorial will be held Friday, March 11 at 1:00 pm at Annandale Golf Club, One N. San Rafael Ave., Pasadena.
Up until his death, Gerry continued to work closely with 96-year-old Disney legend Joe Grant and 50-year veteran Burny Mattinson, adapting books and developing original story ideas. The trio comically referred to their group as the “Geriatricals.”
Grant said, “Vance was one of the finest graphic artists of our times, and he also was a great storyteller. In addition to his interests and talents in the field of animation, he was a master of topography and design.”
Don Hahn, producer of such animated blockbusters as “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King,” added, “Vance had his fingerprints all over such iconic animated films as ‘The Jungle Book,’ ‘101 Dalmatians,’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ He was a writer’s writer and his sense of storytelling and influence on all of us was profound.”
Born in Pasadena, he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute before joining Disney in 1955. He began his career as an assistant in-betweener. Moving on to layout artist, he contributed to such Disney television shows as “The Goofy Success Story,” “Goofy’s Cavalcade of Sports,” and “How to Relax,” and such featurettes as “The Truth About Mother Goose,” and “Donald in Mathmagic Land.” As a layout artist, he also worked on the features, “101 Dalmatians,” and “The Sword in the Stone.”
Vance exhibited his talents for story beginning with the 1967 “The Jungle Book,” and went on to be a major contributor to “The Aristocats,” “Robin Hood,” “The Rescuers,” “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,” “The Fox and the Hound,” “The Black Cauldron,” “Oliver & Company,” and “Hercules.”
He received a story adaptation credit for the 1986 Disney feature, “The Great Mouse Detective.” For “Fantasia/2000,” he worked on the conceptual storyboards for the “Carnival of the Animals” sequence.
From 1995 he turned his attention to visual development and character design. In those capacities, he contributed to such later features as “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Tarzan,” and “Home on the Range.”
In addition to his activities at Walt Disney Feature Animation, Gerry also operated his own letterpress publishing label, The Weatherbird Press.
Gerry is survived by his wife Mary and a niece.
Donations may be made to the International Museum of Graphic Communication, 8469 Kass Drive, Buena Park, CA 90621.