Ub Iwerks

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Full Name:

Ub Iwerks

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Date of birth:


Date of death:



Kansas City, U.S.A.


Iwerks was working as an artist at the Pesman-Rubin Commercial Art Studio in Kansas City when he met Walt Disney. They became good friends and colleagues. They made notable attempts at starting their own business together in Kansas City including Laugh-O-Gram films, but all failed. Finally Disney went to Hollywood, broke and unemployed. There he started an animation company. Lacking talent, he called his old friend Iwerks,who immediately packed up and headed for California. Notable productions from this time include the Alice series and Oswald the Rabbit. 

When Charles Mintz took the Oswald character and Walt’s employees from him in 1928, Iwerks remained loyal and stayed with Disney’s studio. It was from this set-back that Iwerks first animated Mickey Mouse. Iwerks was the lead animator on the Mickey Mouse shorts and soon Steamboat Willie made history by adding sound to the then silent films. It wasn’t easy working for Disney in those days and Iwerks took the brunt of Disney’s rage.  It was in 1930 that Pat Powers offered Iwerks the chance to run his own studio. He jumped at the offer. He created the characters Flip the Frog, Willie Whopper, but they never gained great public support. By 1936 the studio lost its financial backers and went under. After that Iwerks went to work, primarily, as a visual effects director and in 1940 returned to work for Disney.

Family and early life

Born an only child of Dutch and German descent, Iwerks grew up in a poor household in Missouri. His father left the family when Iwerks was young. Ub Iwerks widow, Mildred, died in 1992.

Career outline

Artist, Pesmin-Rubin Commercial Art Studios Artist, Iwerks-Disney Artist, Kansas City Slide Company Animator, Laugh-O-Grams, Inc. Artist, The Kansas City Film Ad Animator/Director, The Disney Brothers Studio/Walt Disney Studios Producer, Ub Iwerks Studios Visual Effects Director, Columbia Visual Effects Director, Walt Disney Studios`

Personal style

He had a free and flowing style, arguably the finest animator of his time. Iwerks was considered to be the greatest contributor to the success of Walt Disney. Iwerks out produced other animators two to one, drawing 700 frames a day on Plane Crazy.


Winsor McCay (Gertie the dinosaur)

Honors and awards

Oscar – Traveling Matte Method of Animation Oscar General contributions to the Industry Kalmas Gold Medal Award




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