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This profile was last updated on 8/28/14  and contains information from public web pages.

Animator

UPA Studios
 
Background

Employment History

  • Animator
    The Walt Disney Company
  • Art Editor
    Gano-Downs clothing store
  • Advertising Illustrator
    Gano-Downs clothing store
  • Editor and Illustrator
    Colorado Dodo
  • Position, Motion Picture Unit
    Hal Roach Studio
  • Animator

Board Memberships and Affiliations

Education

  • University of Colorado
26 Total References
Web References
Willis Pyle | ...
www.animationmagazine.net, 28 Aug 2014 [cached]
Willis Pyle | Disney, UPA Animator Willis Pyle Celebrates his 100th Birthday | No comments yet | Continue Reading → | img | August 28, 2014 Disney, UPA Animator Willis Pyle Celebrates his 100th Birthday | Animation Magazine Animation Magazine
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Willis Pyle
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Willis Pyle
Celebrated Disney and UPA animator Willis Pyle's 100th birthday will be celebrated with a special private event Sept. 3 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
Born on a small farm in Kansas, Pyle attended the University of Colorado and after entering a Disney cartoon competition, began his career in the business working as a general help in the animation studio while attending the Disney art school.
He worked at the Walt Disney Studios from 1937 to 1943, where his first production was working on Pinocchio. His next assignment was working on the Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony chapter of Fantasia and later was involved in the creation of the young Bambi.
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Pyle is still an avid and prolific artist. He started painting at age 68 and for more than 20 years has exhibited at Manhattan's Montserrat Contemporary Art Gallery.
Willis Pyle and Eric Goldberg
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Willis Pyle and Eric Goldberg
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Tags:Bambi, Bill Melendez, Charlie Brown, Disney, Fantasia, Gerald McBoing Boing, Montserrat Contemporary Art Gallery, Mr. Magoo, Pinocchio, Raggedy Ann & Andy, Richard Williams, University of Colorado, UPA, UPA Studios, Walt Disney Studios, Willis Pyle
The man who shaped Pinocchio | Coloradan magazine
www.coloradanmagazine.org, 12 June 2010 [cached]
Willis Pyle (A&S'37)
Willis Pyle (A&S'37) reflects on his decades working for Walt Disney creating some of America's beloved childhood characters.
While walking to art class at Boulder in 1937, Willis Pyle (A&S'37) saw a poster from the Walt Disney studio seeking animators for his fledgling operation in Hollywood. Pyle, a senior who was art editor of the university's satirical Colorado Dodo, and an advertising illustrator for Gano-Downs clothing store in Denver, decided to mail his best work to Southern California.
"A few weeks later, Walt offered me the job," Pyle recalls. "So I headed to Hollywood, found a room within walking distance of the studio and got to work."
The Disney job, which included drawing animation for such classics as Pinocchio, Bambi and Fantasia, launched a storied career in the creative arts that continues to this day with Pyle, 96, showing oil paintings last winter in Manhattan.
His recent show came 84 years after his first drawings were showcased in Cora's Restaurant in Bethune, Colo.
Although Pyle has slowed a step - he stopped driving last year and gets around with the aid of a walker - he continues to draw and paint. He's still experimenting, too. At his exhibit opening at Manhattan's Montserrat Contemporary Art Gallery, Pyle created several drawings with black tape forming the outlines of horses or female nudes. Other works included post-Impressionist paintings of horses in motion - either on the racetrack or in the wild galloping across the Plains.
"Willis has an amazing sense of shape and form," says Montse Coll, who owns the Montserrat Contemporary Art Gallery that has exhibited Pyle's paintings for 20 years.
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Pyle maintains his delight for New York culture, classic cars and the cool spring breezes in the Hamptons on Long Island's south shore. He's a member of the Dutch Treat Club, an invitation-only social group that meets weekly at the National Art Club in Manhattan's Gramercy Park to discuss the latest sensation on Broadway and enjoy performances by emerging artists.
He keeps a brown 1972 Mercedes sedan in the Hamptons where he stays in the spring and fall. When at his home in Seal Beach in Southern California, he tools around on special occasions in a 1969 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.
"I love the shape of it, and it still looks like new," says Pyle, whose brother, Denver Pyle (A&S'42), played Uncle Jesse in The Dukes of Hazzard, which originally aired on the CBS television network from 1979 to 1985. His sister, Farrel "Skippy" Lorayne Pyle (Edu'35), also studied in Boulder. "I'll go on trips with the Rolls Royce Club, as 50 or 60 of us will go for breakfast at Tiffany's or a picnic at Santa Anita Park. They'll let us park in the middle of the track, and we watch the horses race around us."
While at the Disney studio, Pyle was best known for drawing Pinocchio, the wooden puppet brought to life by a fairy. Over and over again he'd draw the character - with movement, a different facial expression or in relation to other characters. It took 12 drawings to make Pinocchio walk. Pyle would do the pencil drawing, then send it to the women in the inking and painting department to be enhanced.
"The character had to act - raise its eyebrows, turn and jump and react to other characters," Pyle says. "And the way you could do it was by looking at yourself in a mirror to see what that expression looked like."
When World War II erupted, Pyle joined the U.S. Army Air Force First Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, Calif.
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Early sketches by Willis Pyle (A&S'37) for the first Mr. Magoo film, Ragtime Bear (1949), aka Strike Up the Banjo
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Early sketches by Willis Pyle (A&S'37) for the first Mr. Magoo film, Ragtime Bear (1949), aka Strike Up the Banjo
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Pinocchio sketch by Willis Pyle (A&S'37)
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Pinocchio sketch by Willis Pyle (A&S'37)
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Portrait of Henri Matisse by Willis Pyle (A&S'37)
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Portrait of Henri Matisse by Willis Pyle (A&S'37)
Early drawings of Disney ...
www.coloradodaily.com, 28 Sept 2010 [cached]
Early drawings of Disney animator Willis Pyle on display at CU-Boulder | Full Story Early drawings of Disney animator Willis Pyle on display at CU-Boulder - Colorado Daily
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Early drawings of Disney animator Willis Pyle on display at CU-Boulder Pyle graduated in 1937 before creating Pinocchio, Mr. Magoo and others
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Art of Willis Pyle
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Before the creation of Pinocchio, Mr. Magoo and Raggedy Ann, illustrator Willis Pyle was art editor of a monthly humor magazine called the "Colorado Dodo" at the University of Colorado.
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CU was the launching pad for Pyle, 96, who has drawn popular Disney characters such as Pinocchio, Bambi and dwarfs from the fairy tale "Snow White."
His early illustrations -- including his characters that lived on the big screen -- are featured in a new display at CU's Heritage Center.
Pyle was born in Lebanon, Kan., and grew up on Colorado's eastern plains before coming to Boulder and receiving formal art instruction. He graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1937, and a recruitment poster seeking animators for the expanding Disney Studios lured him from his fine arts studio in Boulder to animation training at Disney.
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While at Disney, Pyle was in charge of turning rough character sketches into fine line drawings and dressing them up with details. His first assignment was Pinocchio, the puppet whose nose grows when he fibs. Then came classical mythological characters in "Fantasia" and the beloved white-tailed deer Bambi and his girlfriend.
On display at the Heritage Center are some of the sketches of Bambi's girlfriend as well as Goofy, "Snow White" characters and Raggedy Ann.
As World War II escalated, Pyle enlisted in the Army Air Corps to learn navigation, Kuster said.
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An animators' strike at Disney prompted a group of former employees to form United Productions of America, which Pyle joined in 1947. He played a key role in developing the nearsighted Mr. Magoo character while there.
He was also principal animator for the adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book "Gerald McBoing Boing," which is about a boy who talks in sound effects instead of words.
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Early drawings of Disney animator Willis Pyle on display at CU-Boulder Student Voice: Hanging on for health care
Illustrator Willis Pyle, who ...
www.boulderweekly.com [cached]
Illustrator Willis Pyle, who attended CU until 1937 and sketched characters such as Pinocchio, Bambi and Mr. Magoo, is featured in an exhibit in the Heritage Center, the CU history museum on the third floor of Old Main, until Dec. 17.
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At the University of Colorado, Pyle was the editor and illustrator of a humor magazine called Colorado Dodo. He responded to a Disney recruitment poster and went to work for the company in Hollywood as an illustrator, especially on Pinocchio. He later worked on Fantasia, Bambi and Snow White. During World War II, he worked in the motion picture unit at the Hal Roach Studio for the Air Corps teaching program.
After the war, Pyle did art for magazines such as Vogue, Harpers and Gourmet. In 1947, he joined United Productions of America, where he received top animation credit for the Academy Award-winning Gerald McBoing Boing and the first Near Sighted Mr. Magoo.
Last week, I had the pleasure ...
www.cartoonbrew.com [cached]
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 99th birthday party of animator Willis Pyle. Pyle has had a cartoon career for the ages. On Pinocchio, he cleaned up Milt Kahl's scene of Jiminy Cricket getting dressed while running to work. He was a key animator during the early days of UPA and animated on the studio's first theatrical short for Columbia, Robin Hoodlum, as well as the first Mister Magoo short Ragtime Bear. In the classic UPA film Gerald McBoing Boing, Pyle animated the climactic scene of Gerald performing sound effects at the radio station.
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Willis Pyle - 99 years old
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