Disney vet co-directed 'Rescuers,' 'Hound'

Disney animator Art Stevens, who co-produced and co-directed “The Fox and the Hound,” and co-directed “The Rescuers” died of a heart attack May 22 in Studio City, Calif. He was 92.

A native of Montana, Stevens applied for a job at the Disney Studios in 1939 when he learned that Walt Disney was planning an animated feature based on one of his favorite stories, “Alice in Wonderland.” He quickly assembled a group of sketches and submitted them, and was subsequently hired after a six-month wait.

Starting as an in-betweener, he was assigned to work on “Fantasia,” and worked on to the “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” “Pastoral Symphony,” “Nutcracker Suite,” and “Night on Bald Mountain” segments. He went on to in-between on “Bambi” and several other features before achieving full character animator status on “Peter Pan.” His animation credits also include “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day,” “Mary Poppins,” and the underwater sequence from the 1971 Disney feature, “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”

In the 1950s, Stevens provided story concepts and animation for TV space docus (directed and produced by Ward Kimball) for the “Disneyland” TV show: “Man in Space,” “Man and the Moon” and “Mars and Beyond” (1957). He also worked with Kimball on two Oscar-winning shorts “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom,” and “It’s Tough to Be a Bird.”

After animating on “Robin Hood,” Stevens joined Wolfgang “Woolie” Reitherman and John Lounsbery as a co-director on the 1977 animated feature, “The Rescuers.” “The Fox and the Hound,” which he produced (with Woolie Reitherman), and co-directed (with Ted Berman and Dave Michener), became Disney’s highest grossing film at the time of its release in 1981.

Stevens also worked on title sequences for “Freaky Friday,” “No Deposit, No Return,” “The Strongest Man in the World” and “The North Avenue Irregulars.”

Stevens is survived by his wife of 68 years, Penny, two sons and four grandchildren.

Donations may be made to Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY 10018, or Macular Degeneration Foundation, P.O. Box 531313, Henderson, NV 89053.

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