Background Painter Ron Dias Dies at 76


Background painter and stylist Ron Dias died in California on Tuesday, July 30th at the age of 76. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 15, 1937, he first decided to pursue an art career after seeing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the age of 6.

A graduate of the Honolulu Academy of Art and the correspondence art program Famous Artists School, he was hired at the Disney Studios in 1956 after winning a nationwide stamp contest. He explains his unlikely path into the animation world in this video interview:

Starting in the inbetween department during the production of Sleeping Beauty, this would be the beginning of a forty-plus year association with the Disney Company that included illustrating their characters for Golden Books, art directing limited edition cels for Disney Art Editions, art directing The Little Mermaid TV series and creating artwork for Disney’s interactive CD-ROMs in the 1990s.

His background art was seen in the cartoons of many major studios during the animation industry’s silver age, including Hanna-Barbera (Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear, Jonny Quest, The Man Called Flintstone), DePatie-Freleng (The Pink Panther), Warner Bros. (Return of Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ century), UPA (Uncle Sam Magoo) and Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings. He also worked as a color stylist on The Secret of NIMH (pictured above), Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace for Don Bluth, and the Toon Town sequence in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (below).

He retired to California’s Monterey Peninsula in 1999, focusing on fine art painting and advocacy for art in the school system. He is survived by his partner of thirty-five years, Howard, as well as two sons and three grandchildren. Go here to see a portfolio of Ron Dias’s artwork.


  • James Madison

    RIP

  • greg manwaring

    Thank you for your wonderful art Ron, I was a big fan!

  • greg the jedi

    Ron was an amazing artist and an all around very nice man. I would bump into Ron in the halls at the Disney building I worked in the late 90′s. We had a common bond of the island of Kauai ( my father and Ron were the same age and grew up in neighboring towns). So, we always had something to talk about..whether it was the town of Hanapepe or the masterful art of Marc Davis or how it was more important to draw from a pencil than with a keyboard. And, Ron and I wore Hawaiian shirts by sheer coincidence every time we saw each other. Being the son of a Hawaiian, I guess it rubs off. Even though I hadn’t seen Ron since 1999, I remember his big smile, his cheery personality ,and above all,his wonderful paintings and drawings. Rest in peace my dear friend and ‘aloha pa’o ole’….which means ‘a love that will never end’.

  • George

    What an amazing man.

  • Andrea Artz

    We love you and will miss you cousin Ron. You were such an immense talent and a generous soul. You could cheer up anybody. I’m so glad you and Howard were able to marry. We have your art work and cards all over our home so a piece of you will always be with us. Bob, Jason , Aimee and I send our love to you. R.I.P.

    • robert artz

      Thanks for saying it all so well, Andi. Very sad.

  • Julie Farrell

    Uncle Ron would send me Christmas cards every year and I cherish the drawings he made for me when I was a child…very proud to call him family. All of us in South Dakota will miss you!

  • Deb Furlin

    What a great guy. I was privileged to have known him while I worked in the animation industry for 20 years. RIP, dear Ron. We will miss you.

  • Noreen Helvie

    A talented artist. Thank you for adding to our lives. Pleasure knowing Ron through the Golden Gate Disneyana Club. We appreciate & will never forget him for he is a generous man with a big heart.

  • Marko Barrows

    Worked with Ron at Bluth and Disney. He was always a pleasure to work with, not to mention hysterically funny, especially his comments regarding management. His kindness and encouragement to a then “newbie” like me, his exceptionally brilliant artwork, and his perpetually happy demeanor will be sorely missed. I am glad I got to know the man and wish the industry and the world had more like him. God bless you Ron; R.I.P. Sincerely, Marko Barrows