June 2, 2005 by

Joe Grant


Categories: Artists, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

jgrant.jpgJoe Grant, a pioneering Disney animator and writer, died on May 6 at the age of 96. He suffered a heart attack while working at his drawing board.
Grant was born in New York and raised in Los Angeles. He trained at the Chouinard Art Institute, then landed a job drawing caricatures for The Los Angeles Record. Walt Disney spotted Grant’s work in the newspaper and hired him to freelance on the animated short “Mickey’s Gala Premiere.”
Grant was brought on staff full-time a few years later. Over the next decade, he worked on “Alice in Wonderland” and designed the queen-witch character in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Disney eventually promoted Grant to head of the Character Model Department, which served as a think tank for future animated projects.
During World War II, Grant and animator Dick Huemer created gags and designs for many of Disney’s patriotic-themed cartoons, such as “Reason and Emotion,” “Education for Death” and the Academy Award-winning “Der Fuehrer’s Face.” Grant also co-wrote “Dumbo” with Huemer, and conceived “Lady and the Tramp” with his wife, Jennie. She died in 1991.
When the Character Model Department disbanded in 1949, Grant opened a ceramics studio (Opechee Designs) and a greeting card company (Castle Ltd.). He returned to Disney in 1989 to work on “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Pocahontas” and “Mulan.” The only Disney artist and story creator to work on the original “Fantasia” in 1940, and its sequel, “Fantasia 2000,” he also contributed to the 2004 Oscar-nominated short “Lorenzo.”
Grant was named an official Disney Legend in 1992. Four years later, his work was honored with a Ruben Award from the National Cartoonists Society. More than 70 of his caricatures appear in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institute.

3 Responses to Joe Grant

  1. Janice Morley

    “Lady and The Tramp” debuted the same year I was born. I just watched this film last night and I was so impressed with how well this story bridges 100 years (it reached back 50 years in the storyline, and 50 years forward to today).
    Joe Grant contributed to the happiness of thousands of us as both children and adults. He will be missed.

  2. Morey Lawton

    I had the great privilege of working with Joe Grant during the Casle Ltd. Years. The man was a creative genius and a great life long friend. Morey

  3. Charlie Rosenbeger

    I di not no Joe Grant only of reading about him, and was lucky enough to have had him sighn one of my animation books/ I always tried to find a drawing of mickey’s Gala premere but were very sought after/ but did not no that lady and the tramp was started from a springer spaniel and very sorry to his family and close friends he is gone I had a springer spaniel growing up as a child that was my hunting dog and show dog second/ and when I had just reacieved a lady and the tramp book two years prior/ iv trained bird dogs and did obedience for dog trainers and owners kinda like the Big Red story of the Irish Setterand the little boy as i was only 13 14 at the time now older I wish I would have known how to research things and people on enternet could have sent him a pictures of my springer sheba

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