Veteran Disney animator, Dave Michener, has died, according to his wife of 67 years. He died on Feb. 15 at the age of 85, due to complications from a virus.
Michener spent 31 years working at the Mouse House. According to Deadline, he once said, “I have always felt privileged to work for Disney. As a small boy of five or seven years old, my dad brought me out to the studio, and it was instant love. I never really wanted to work anywhere else. When you take an animated character and move an audience to tears, you’ve done a magical thing.”
Born in Los Angeles in 1932, Michener graduated from Chouinard Art Institute in 1956, after which Walt Disney himself asked Michener to work for him. In a few weeks, Michener was animating on the original Mickey Mouse Club TV show.
Michener went on to have a hand in practically everything to come from Disney Animation until his retirement from the company in 1987. This included everything from Sleeping Beauty to The Aristocats to One Hundred and One Dalmatians to The Jungle Book. He received writer credits on Robin Hood, The Rescuers, and The Fox and the Hound, and got a directing credit on The Great Mouse Detective. He also was responsible for producing and directing nearly all the character animations for the pavilions at EPCOT in Disney World, as well as single attractions at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland.
After leaving Disney in 1987, he taught animation for a few years at CalArts, then spent some time as an animation supervisor at Hanna-Barbera, on films like Jetsons: The Movie and TV shows like Tom & Jerry Kids Show and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures.
In addition to his wife, Donna, Michener is survived by three daughters, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.