– Let’s talk a little about Eyvind Earle. This is the artist who rose to fame when he was selected by Walt Disney to set the style for the long-in-production feature, Sleeping Beauty. The animators disliked his art direction and openly protested it. Walt remained true in his stance and supported Earle to the end; though it could be said that Walt was more involved in Disneyland’s construction and gave too little attention to the in-fighting at the animation studio.
I remember Frank Thomas, specifically, stating that he had done everything possible to supercede Earle’s style after he, Thomas, had animated the Merryweather scene as she creates Aurora’s dress and cake in honor of her birthday. He felt that the black bodice that Earle had designed took all the lightness out of his character’s delicate dance.
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Thomas publicly attacked Earle at the Lincoln Center celebration of Disney animation back in 1973. I’d already read something similar, and heard it privately. None of the others on stage at Lincoln Center – Woolie Reitherman, Ken Anderson or Ollie Johnston – countered in support of Earle.
Sleeping Beauty was such a drastic change in look from the other Disney features, that I think it took deep hold in the minds of a lot of Baby Boomers growing up around this feature. Earle became a strong target of interest, and I think his reputation has grown annually.
I have to admit it was odd seeing the backgrounds of Pocohontas trying to emulate Earle’s Sleeping Beauty style, but in some ways it seemed fitting. The studio had been ripping off the films of the past for so long that it was only approopriate that they’d focus on someone who was such a dynamic force.
For a short period after he was released by Disney, in the post-Sleeping Beauty layoffs, he worked with John Sutherland Productions where he designed the short, Rhapsody of Steel. Then he formed his own studio, Eyvind Earle Productions, Inc. He did an animated trailer for the film, West Side Story, under the supervision of Saul Bass. He did an animated title for the Kraft Suspense Theater, and he did a Christmas Special for Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Ultimately, Earle made a success of his own art after leaving animation. He’s been represented by a number of very large galleries and has sold a lot of popular art in a style all his own. Here are a couple of examples found on line:
I’m not always a big fan of the color schemes in his graphics, though he always makes them work, but I have to give credit to Earle for his originality and the dynamic approach in his art.
His autobiography, Horizon Bound on a Bicycle, is a must for all real fans.
This is his animation resume:
- 1951 Started with the Walt Disney Studios as background painter on: FOR WHOM THE
__ BULLS TOIL, MELODY, and the Academy Award winner for “Best Short of the Year”
__TOOT, WHISTLE, PLUNK and BOOM which also received a Cannes Film Festival Award.
__Production Designer, Color Stylist and Background Painter for the DIsney animated __classic SLEEPING BEAUTY, as well as, PIGS IS PIGS, GRAND CANYONSCOPE,
__PAUL BUNYAN, LADY AND THE TRAMP, LONDON BRIDGE, and WORKING FOR PEANUTS.
__He designed 5 murals for Disneyland.
1958 Joined John Sutherland Motion Picture Company in Los Angeles.
1960-1966 Created 24 sheet poster for Hamm’s Beer.
__Started motion picture animation company, Eyvind Earle Productions, Inc.
__Created animated commercials for Chevrolet Motors, Chrysler Corporation, Marlboro
__igarettes, Motorola Television and the Kellogg Cereal Company.
__Created animated trailer for WEST SIDE STORY for United Artists.
1961 Created animated television special THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS starring
__Tennessee Ernie Ford and the Roger Wagner Choral.
1962 Created animated television special THE EASTER SPECIAL.
__Created title for the KRAFT SUSPENSE THEATER.
__Created the logo trademark trailer for Universal Pictures.
__Produced and created the theatrical short DEATH AND SUNRISE