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Thursday, December 15, 2005


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Birth: December 19, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York


Bio Summary

Mel Shaw is one of the "Disney Legends" who had worked on many Disney's animation as animator and story man. He also has been called one of the Disney "elder statesmen" of animation.
Mel Shaw was born on December 19, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of 10, Mel's artistic talent began to appear when he was selected as "one of only 30 children from the state of New York to participate in the Student Art League Society." (Disney legends website) Furthermore, Mel's soap sculpture of a Latino with a pack mule "won second prize in Protect & Gamble soap carving contest, earning the young artist national notoriety." (Disney legends website)
In 1928, Mel's family moved to Los Angeles where he attended high school and gained a scholarship class at Otis Art Institute. Mel artistic talent developed even further when he took a job of creating title cards for silent movies at Pacific Titles, in which owned by Leon Schlesinger. Moreover, through the network of art industry of Schlesinger, he helped Mel to have an opportunity to work with the former Disney animators, Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising, as animator, character designer, story man, and director in Harman-Ising Studios. During the time there, Mel also worked with Orson Welles on storyboarding a live-action/animated version of "The Little Price." (Disney legends website)
Mel's passion on Disney animation began when he met with Walt Disney while playing polo at the polo field. As the artistic talent of Mel captured Walt's attention, he was personally recruited by Walt to join the Disney animation team. In 1937, after Mel had worked with MGM and Warner Brothers for a period of time, he arrived at Disney Studio and contributed his skills and creativities to many animation films such as "Fantasia" (1940), "Bambi" (1941), and "The Wind in the Willows," which later became a segment in "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" (1949). (
However, when World War II began, Mel was served the U.S. Army Signal Corp. as "a filmmaker under Lord Lewis Mountbatten helping produce films including a live action/animated documentary of the Burma Campaign." Furthermore, Mel also served as art editor and cartoonist for the "Stars & Stripes" newspaper in Shanghai." (Disney legends website)
After the War, Mel decided to partner in business with the former MGM Studios animator, Bob Allen, and created the Allen-Shaw Productions. During those time, Mel designed and created the original Howdy Doody marionette puppet for NBC, illustrated the first "Bambi" children's book for Disney, designed children's toys, architecture, and even master plans for cities, including Century City in California. (Disney legends website)
In 1974, as the request from Walt Disney, Mel went back to Disney Studios and offered his artistic talent in cartooning and animation to many Disney motion picture such as "The Rescuers" (1977), "The Fox and the Hound" (1981), "The great Mouse Detective" (1986), "Beauty and the Beast" (1992), "The Lion King" (1994), and many others more. (Disney legends website)
At the Disney Studio, Mel has a great appreciation on Walt's interest in character development. As stated from the interview with Mel Shaw, "Walt was more interested in developing characters and personalities, and he wanted the humor to come from the development of the character itself. He wanted characters that looked like they were thinking, and they were serious about what they were going to do...I would say, and they became more realistic and the characters became more believable. And to me that was a very exciting type pf animation to be involved with." (
As Mel's achievements became to recognize by many people as one of the most passionated animator, in 1987, Mel won the Annie Award (Winsor McCay Award) for distinguished Contribution of the Art of Animation. (Annie awards website)

Early Life/Family


Career Outline

Comments On Style







Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1987

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