Ralph Kent, a veteran Disney artist who designed the first limited-edition Mickey Mouse watch and designed souvenirs for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, died from complications due to esophageal cancer Sept. 10 in Kissimmee, Fla. He was 68.
Kent retired from the Walt Disney Co. in May 2004 after 41 years as an artist and merchandise designer.
Kent taught new artists how to draw Mickey Mouse and other classic characters and explained their personalities and how they should interact with each other. Kent also developed marketing materials to help popularize classic attractions such as Disney’s Jungle Cruise and the Enchanted Tiki Room.
The company credits him with creating souvenirs including a 1965 limited-edition Mickey Mouse watch for adults. Walt Disney was so fond of Kent’s creation he gave it to his executives.
Born in New York in 1939, Kent became fascinated with Disney characters at age 10 and studied art at the University of Buffalo after receiving an encouraging response from a letter he sent to Walt Disney. He joined the company in 1963. He was named a Disney Legend in 2004.
He is survived by his wife Linda, two daughters, three stepsons, a sister and a brother.