Animation changed entertainment forever. History makers like Walt Disney who introduced us to Mickey Mouse and Pixar legend, John Lasseter whose characters took us to infinity and beyond are true creative trailblazers. Let’s go behind the scenes and take a look at the five top animators in cinema history.
Walt Disney, an animator, entrepreneur, cartoonist, and entertainment pioneer was famous both in front and behind the camera. He holds a record for the most Academy Awards and nominations winning 22 Oscars for his timeless works of art. His mark on American popular culture is etched in history for spearheading the first short movie to utilize sound, Steamboat Willie. This 1928 classic features one of his most famous characters, Mickey Mouse. After that, he continued to create multiple classics including Mary Poppins, Snow White, and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio. Bambi, Fantasia among others. Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955 a place he called Magic Kingdom that continues to entertain folks from all over the world. Walt Disney is a household name, a folklore icon whose work continues to touch so many and will for generations to come.
John Lasseter is a creative visionary most known as a pioneer of using computer graphics imagery (CGI) for animated movies. He is also a director, producer, screenwriter, animator, and voice actor. Currently, he is the head of animation at Skydance. John Lasseter started his career at Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. As a child, his mother and art teacher encouraged him to enter an art contest that he won and his dream began. Some of his masterpieces are Toy Story, Frozen, Cars, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles, among others. John Lasseter earned two Academy Awards for Best Animated Film and Special Achievement Award, both for Toy Story. His animated films have grossed more than $19 billion, making him one of the most successful filmmakers of all time. Lasseter’s contributions are priceless and revolutionized the animation entertainment industry.
Best known for his extremely popular animated television series, The Simpsons, Matt Groening is one of the most successful animators of our generation. His wit and shrewd character development changed the way the world viewed animated personalities. The Simpsons feature a quirky cartoon family with witty stories that are humorous and full of edgy pop culture relevance. Groening and his team kept the Simpsons relevant for a record 740 episodes. Groening was quoted as saying his goal was to create a show offering an alternative to “mainstream trash.” The Simpsons which aired on Fox was the network’s first television series to rank among a season’s top 30 highest-rated shows. Groening also created the comic strip, Life in Hell which ran between 1980 and 2012, and two television shows, Futurama and Disenchantment.
William Hannah and Joseph Barbera
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera is an iconic duo that created some of America’s favorite cartoons between 1957 and 2001. Both men left successful business careers to delve into the world of entertainment and what is commonly referred to as “gag writing.” Some of their works include The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Tom & Jerry, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, The Jetsons, and The Smurfs. During their long and successful career, they won several coveted awards and received accolades from critics and the public alike. Best known for developing “limited animation” due to budget restraints of the time, the team is famous for their exceptional writing quality and masterful content. This 60-year MGM partnership is a nod to their friendship, creativity, and teamwork.
Chuck Jones, actor, writer, animator, philosopher, and director, is a Hollywood legend for his cartoon characters, amazing personality, and dedicated work ethic. He is the mastermind behind Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Pepe Le Pew, Marvin the Martian, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, and many other popular Merry Melodies cartoons. His clever personality and amazing wit brought us priceless stories with some of the most iconic cartoons in American history. He is an animation trailblazer, creating more than 300 films during his 70-year career. Many animators and creatives that followed him were inspired by his timeless works that transformed American popular culture forever.