Ken Walker Ken Walker
AnimatorsDisneyWard Kimball

Ken Walker 1921-2012

Veteran Disney animator Ken Walker passed away last Saturday, August 18th, The Orange County Register posted his obituary on Wednesday. He was 91.

Walker began working at Disney right after graduating High School in 1940. After two years he joined the Navy, and after the war rejoined Disney as an assistant. In the mid-1940s, he was one of Ward Kimball’s assistants. Ward drew the gag drawing below of himself (left), inbetweener Mary Schuster and Walker. Walker later worked as an animator on Alice In Wonderland and numerous shorts (including Trick or Treat and Pluto’s Party, both 1952). He also animated for Film Graphics, Bill Melendez, DePatie Freleng, among others.

He was featured in this clip from the 1950s TV show, You Asked For It, which we posted on the Brew several years ago. In it, host Art Baker answers viewer mail about how animated cartoons are made, having Walker demonstrate by flipping scenes from the short Plutopia (1951). Walker’s appearance starts at the 3:20 mark.

  • That’s a pretty good explanation of the process. It’s weird that they show Steamboat Willie as a silent film (with organ accompaniment).

    • James

      Well, Steamboat Willie was originally a silent cartoon (like the previously produced “Plane Crazy” and “Gallopin’ Gaucho”)that was first screened with live music and sound effects. However, it was certainly more lively and intricate than a single organ and the majority of 1928 audiences saw it when it was a pre-recorded sound cartoon.

      The sound audio track was later scored for the premier the following month, being that they intended for the cartoon to be their first sound/talking cartoon. The decision to make it into a (well-made) sound cartoon helped position the company as leaders in field of talking/sound cartoons, most significantly at a time in which some major studios still hadn’t made a full transition

  • top cat james

    Any relation to Card Walker?

  • I love the drawing of Ward, Mary and Ken. This was back when Disney animation was fun and maybe you had to be a little crazy to work for Kimball.

    Some years later I worked for Ken when he ran his own studio. True to form he was still kinda crazy. I’ll miss the guy.

  • Mel

    Today h.r. would forbid caricaturing a woman unclothed in the workplace, even in jest.

  • Wow, check out the stretch on Mickey’s arm as he bows in that sequence Walker is flipping. I’ve had clients and agency people, even directors, who would flip out and scream “OFF MODEL! FIX IT!”