Disney Animator Dave Michener Dies at 85

Dave Michener, an animator and story artist who worked at Walt Disney Studios for more than 30 years, died on Feb. 15. He was 85. His wife Donna said he died at his Los Angeles home from complications due to a virus.

He co-directed “The Great Mouse Detective” alongside John Musker and Ron Clements.

Michener worked at Disney starting in 1956 until his retirement in 1987, contributing to classics like “Sleeping Beauty,” “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book,” “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day,” “The Aristocats,” “Robin Hood,” “The Rescuers” and “The Fox and the Hound.” 

The animator started his career at Disney right out of college when he was hired by Walt Disney himself, who had seen one of his art exhibits at the Chouinard Art Institute. Michener went on to produce and direct character animation for the Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. in the 1980s, followed by similar duties at Tokyo Disneyland’s “Meet the World” attraction and the pre-show PSA on the history of aviation at Disneyland. 

After leaving Disney, he taught animation at California Institute for the Arts and illustrated children’s book “How Butterbees Came to Bee.”

He was born in Los Angeles; his father was an who helped design many of the iconic buildings in the Miracle Mile district and his uncle was the acclaimed best-selling author, James Michener.

Michener is survived by his wife of 67 years, three daughters – Suzanne Gerhardt, Cynthia van Houten, and Donna Michelle Michener – six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. 

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