Don Lusk animating on “Pinocchio,” ca. 1940. Don Lusk animating on “Pinocchio,” ca. 1940.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Disney Animator Don Lusk Turns 100 Today!

Celebrating the centennial of a great animator is something we don’t get to do very often, so it’s a particularly joyful occasion that today we are able to wish a happy 100th birthday to Don Lusk.

Don started his animation career at Disney in 1933 and worked there continuously (except for the Disney strike and military service) until 1960. Of the seventeen animated features made by Disney from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to 101 Dalmatians, Don was an animator on 13 of them. He animated Cleo and Figaro in Pinocchio, the Arabian Fish Dance in the “Nutracker Suite” of Fantasia, the title character in Alice in Wonderland, and Wendy in Peter Pan, to name but a few.

After being let go from Disney in 1960, Lusk spent many years animating at different studios, including UPA (where he worked on Gay Purr-ee), Walter Lantz Studios, DePatie-Freleng, and Bill Melendez Productions, where he animated on at least ten Peanuts specials. He spent the bulk of his later career working at Hanna-Barbera, where he timed and directed hundreds of episodes of countless TV series including The Smurfs, Snorks, Yo Yogi!, The Pirates of Dark Water, and Captain Planet and the Planeteers before retiring from the animation industry at the age of eighty.

In honor of Lusk’s birthday, the Animation Guild blog has posted the first part of an audio interview conducted earlier this month. And Don’s son, Skip, has generously shared with Cartoon Brew a selection of photos from throughout Don’s life, which can be viewed below. Congratulations, Don, on your 100th and best wishes and continued good health from all of us at Cartoon Brew!

Don Lusk Centennial Birthday Gallery
  • That’s a pretty impressive career!

  • Will

    Awesome we share the same birthday. Another reason to push myself to become an animator hehehe

  • George Comerci

    Happy birthday! The dancing fish still blow me away :D

  • DarylT

    Happy Birthday!

  • wowee!

    That picture of him in the pin stripe suit is stunning!

  • jordan reichek

    Very cool! Happy Berfday, Don!

  • Roberto Severino

    Happy birthday, Don! What an amazing career it’s been.

  • Mark

    So very cool! Happy 100th Birthday to a great artists and generator of dreams!

  • Toonio

    That my friends, its the face of a man that lived a life with no regrets.

    This is the kind of breed of artists I want to hear and read more about. Not the ones that a freaking PR machine behind them (in a Lebron James way).

    Happy B Mr. Lusk, you left them all under your dust.

  • Floyd Norman

    Happy Birthday to an awesome animator. Sadly, I remember the day Don was let go from Disney. Yet, he handled it like a gentleman and went on to many more projects at other studios. Don is a great animator and a true Disney Legend.

  • Philippe Willems

    Knowing nothing of your “illustrious career” one day (Feb. 10, 1967), I remember adopting you as “Uncle Don!” Affectionately wishing you an even more colorful 2nd century with your friends and extended family! PW

  • Mar

    I couldn’t help but notice that the article missed the fact that he won an Emmy for directing Smurfs…just thought I’d add! :0) Forgot the year though, sorry.

  • Stewart Patton

    I called Don yesterday and left a message. He is a very nice man. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with him several times, so humble.