I’m not sure where the stereotypical image of the pudgy, slovenly animation artist originated, but animators haven’t always been sedentary creatures. Here’s the proof: some rare 1939 images I recently ran across in Life magazine of Clarke Mallery who went on to work at Disney and UPA. (Click on them for a bigger version.) He also played a mean clarinet, and was in Ward Kimball’s words, “a poor man’s Artie Shaw.” Mallery performed in the Firehouse Five Plus Two from its inception until 1952. Here’s some more biographical details about him culled from the liner notes of a Firehouse Five Plus Two album:
Born in Los Angeles, May 17, 1919 and lived in the Pasadena area since. He became interested in music at an early age; his mother was a fine singer, and his family were all musically inclined. He studied violin at first, then switched to clarinet, which he played in the Pasadena High School band. While at high school, he also sang with a local dance orchestra led by his older brother. At high school he was an outstanding track star, which led to a scholarship at the University of Southern California, Class of 1940.
In 1939 he took top high jump honors at the Big Ten-Pacific Coast Dual Meet at Berkeley. His best jump in competition was 6′ 7-1/2″. From earliest childhood he had been interested in drawing and during college worked as a sports cartoonist for the Los Angeles Examiner. After a summer job (1937) at Disney Studios, he decided on a professional career as an artist. He joined Disney in 1941 as an animation artist, and worked on almost every Disney feature since that time, except for 1942-1944, when he was in the Army. Clarke’s other interests include acting, theatrical direction and singing. In 1953 he left Disney to do free-lance work, and to form his own band.