Milton (Milt) Kahl
Milton Erin KahlOccupation / Title:
22/04/1909Date of death:
San Francisco, California
Milt Kahl was an renown animator and director who was a part of Disney’s group of “Nine Old Men”, who created and designed many Disney characters, and whose distinctive style had a large influence within the history of the studio.
Kahl first joined Disney Studios in June 1934, at the age of 25, working as an inbetweener on the Mickey Mouse cartoons.
He stayed at Disney for more than fourty-two years, working as an animator and director on over 23 cartoon shorts and 23 animated features. He never received any formal arts training, but was described by many animators, such as Marc Davis, another veteran of Disney Studios, as “the most extraordinary pure animator.”
In 1935, with his natural abilities of draftsmanship, and animated lively characters who served as a stylistic example of Disney’s animated realism, Kahl was promoted to animator. Over the next four decades he worked on Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphony, Goofy, and Walt Disney Specials.
He was part of the nine-person animation team that Walt picked to produce the first feature animation film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Kahl also worked on other features such as Saludos Amigos (1943), Make Mine Music (1946), and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Over the course of his career, Kahl was nominated for four Oscars in the short animated films he helped animate, including Silly Symphony cartoons The Ugly Duckling (1939), the war documentary short The Grain that Built a Hemisphere (1943), and for Winnie The Pooh and The Blustery Day (1968).
By 1938, Kahl had started directing animations, including the beloved classic Pinocchio in 1940, and the controversial Song of the South made in 1946. Kahl worked as the supervising animator on the classic tale of Bambi in 1942, and was also responsible for directing the character Duke and the Fairy Godmother sequences which appeared in the 50′s landmark animated feature Cinderella (1950). Kahl also was assigned to direct Alice and the Flamingo in Alice in Wonderland a year later, as well as Peter Pan released in 1952, and Lady and the Tramp (1955), and the Prince sequences that appeared in Sleeping Beauty (1959).
In the 60′s and the 70′s, Kahl worked as supervision of animation, as well as drawing many more memorable characters in Disney features working on One Hundred and One Dalmations (1961), The Sword in the Stone (1963), The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), Robin Hood (1973) and The Rescuers (1977).
On April 30th, 1976, Kahl decided to retire, moving to his Mill Valley California home. He was presented with the Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award from the ASIFA a year later.
At the age of 78, Kahl died of pneumonia at a local hospital. In 1987, he was honored posthumously with the Disney Legends Award.
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.