Interview: Marc Davis (Disney animation)

Two Disney Legends: Marc & Alice Davis
Two Disney Legends: Marc & Alice Davis

I’m so excited to share this interview with you, despite it’s poor quality. A 1997 conversation with the amazing Marc Davis, one of Walt Disney’s “nine old men”! Walt was so fond of Marc, whose work includes everything from designing characters such as Cruella De Vil and Tinker Bell to designing story and character concepts for such Disneyland attractions as it’s a small world, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise, Marc was a major part of Walt Disney’s success.

It was always a treat to receive the Christmas cards Marc drew
It was always a treat to receive the Christmas cards Marc drew


3:11 Marc taught life drawing at Chouinard Art Institute for 17 years; Alice Davis was one of Marc’s students in the class and started going out together

4:33 Started working for Disney on December 2, 1935, due to his knowledge of animals and anatomy; Began working as an assistant animator for Grim Natwick on the character of Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; With his knowledge of animals and anatomy, Marc became part of the story team on Bambi; Moved from studio on Hyperion to a studio on Seward St. in Hollywood; Marc was part of the first creative group to move to the new Burbank Disney Studios; Walt was so intrigued with Marc’s drawings of the Bambi character that Walt said he wants Marc to animate; Story director Perce Pearce would say “Man is in the Forest” to indicate that Walt was coming down the hall

8:47 Marc remembers Walt Disney, “What a tremendous man he was”

10:53 As a treat for the assistant animator, Marc got to animate on Snow White, the scene with Dopey dancing on top of Sneezy

11:46 On Bambi, Marc worked on the design of the characters, Bambi, Thumper and Flower, animated a lot on the film as well; Marc did a photographic study of human babies and put those expressions into young Bambi

12:49 Walt Disney had relied on his foreign revenues from the worldwide distribution of his films, probably more than any other studio, and during World War II, he suddenly was not able to access his money, from England in particular. Walt was asked by the United States government to do films that would help the war effort and Marc worked on some of those and those films helped Disney survive the wartime; Marc worked Alexander P. de Seversky’s Victory Through Air Power, for Disney, despite being overlooked on screen credit; Marc ran in to Seversky at the New York World’s Fair that Disney had attractions in

17:42 Due to the war, Disney could not do full-length feature films so they did short subjects that they would tie together; Cinderella was the first full-length animated feature Disney did after the war; Marc animated the first sequence on Song of the South and also worked on story on it; Disney wasn’t capable of doing a full-length animated film which is why the film was live-action with only some animation; Marc and Alice attended the 30th anniversary of Song of the South After the war Marc worked on some of the films such as Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians; Walt like that Marc could do anything – Alice tells a story of when Walt called Marc a genius

23:52 Marc designed Tinker Bell and animated the close-up scenes with her; Peter Pan was written as a stage play, not a book, and in it, Tinker Bell was only a spot of light so Marc had to develop the character, and some people complained about his version

5 thoughts on “Interview: Marc Davis (Disney animation)”

  1. Wow. This is incredible. “Marks a genius”…from Walt Disney as told by Alice Davis. Gave me chills to hear Alice tell the story.

    Before hearing Alice tell that story, I was thinking that Marc must have been a very intelegent man. His memory seems almost perfection. I love how he strays off a bit about the war planes and explains one as superior to the other. It kind of gives us a glimpse into the way his (Marc) brain worked. I’ll bet that there wasn’t much of anything that Marc didn’t know about.

    Scott, I’m in awe. Honestly had my eyes swelling up as I listened to one of my most admired people just talking in his living room. ( Alice, are your potato’s alright?,,,) My heart beating a tiny bit faster as I pushed play on your interview link.

    I truly Love Walt Disney and Mark Davis and you sir just made my day!!!!

    See you soon friend!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I can’t wait for you to hear the next one, where he talks about his work on Disneyland attractions. Your comments made MY day!!

  2. Laying here unable to sleep. So what can I do? Listen to the genius that was Marc Davis! So here’s what stuck out to me this time… I love how Marc asks Alice to tell the story of when Walt basically called Marc a genius. How incredible it is to hear that Walt did this. It again shows how great Walt was at finding such great talent and also using people to their fullest capabilities. This was Walts genius talent. Marc was not showing off but I feel was extremely proud to be a part of Walt Disney’s true American art form as he put it. Of course Marc is a genius, but this story tells more about Walt than Marc at this particular moment. At least it does to me. We know Walt Disney the name, but we don’t know much of the person. Listening to the closest people to him talk about him is such a wonderful glimpse into the mind of Walt Disney. In my dreams I can dream that I knew Walt. That’s shears fun! Thanks again Scott and Shany!

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