Maurice NobleOccupation / Title:
01/05/1910Date of death:
Maurice Noble was one of the most well-respected animation designers and layout artists of the age of Golden American Animation, and a self-proclaimed “rebel” who worked for Walt Disney as well as Warner Brothers Animation Studios.
He created the interior of the Dwarfs’ cottage in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), the first feature-length animation created, and did background work on many of the studio’s most successful films, including Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940). In his years at Disney, Noble took an active part in the Screen Cartoonist Guild, serving on the board for several years and participating and picketing outside of the studio during the historic Disney animator’s strike in 1941.
In 1941, days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Noble left Disney to join the United States Army, and was assigned to Major Theodore Geisel, whom was later known to millions by the name of Dr. Seuss. Working with Geisel, Noble helped create propaganda booklets and posters, as well as cartoons in promotion of the war, meeting future associate Chuck Jones in the process as well.
After the war finished, Noble worked freelance for a while producing filmstrips for local clients in St. Louis. After Chuck Jones offered him a job at Warner Brothers working to layout a film, Noble accepted without the prior knowledge of how to lay a film, and said of the experience that he just had to figure it out, and watch those around him.
Working with other background artists to develop his skills, Noble quickly evolved his understanding of cinematic space and worked on such Oscar-winning cartoons such as For Scent-Imental Reasons (1949), and Duck Amuck (1953), as well as What’s Opera, Doc? (1957).
With the close of Warner Brothers in 1963 of the cartoon department, Noble followed Chuck Jones to MGM, working with the revived Tom and Jerry series to work layouts and designs. He also worked for Chuck Jones Productions until the early 90′s, creating the timeless Dr. Seuss animated films The Cat in the Hat (1971) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).
In the 70′s, Noble left animation to work on limited-edition screen prints, but later went back to create more layouts for the Dr. Seuss specials, and worked as an art director for Chuck Jones on the Coyote and Road Runner special Chariots of Fur (1994).
Active well into his older age, Maurice also had his own production company, Maurice Noble Productions. He created a series in 1998 that were short folktales, and worked on his unpublished autobiography. In this period, he also worked as a mentor to young animators for animation studios like Disney, Pixar, Dreamsworks and WB, becoming a popular lecturer for his many years of animation experience.
He received the prestigious Winsor McCay Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1987 from ASIFA, and Disney named him a Disney Legend in 1993.
Noble died in 2001 in his California home at the age of 91.
- Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television’s Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2006. Print.