Dorse Lanpher (1935-2011)

Veteran effects animator Dorse Lanpher passed away this past Friday (12/16). His presence will be sorely missed.

I first met Dorse in the period after the Disney rebellion, during the making of The Secret Of Nimh (the United Artists publicity photo above is from 1981) and though I can’t say I knew him well on a personal level, he was always a friendly face to run into a various animation events. I just had a nice conversation with him at last month’s CTN Expo.

Lanpher was one of the industry’s best, having honed his craft at Disney on Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians. He left the studio during production of The Sword In The Stone to work on industrial films. He directed a handful of religious TV specials in the 1970s (Christmas Is, Easter Is, etc.) then returned to Disney to do effects animation on The Rescuers, Pete’s Dragon and The Black Hole. Joining the Bluth renegades he contributed to Nimh, American Tail, Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace. Lanpher rejoined the Disney fold with Roger Rabbit, then toiled on every significant Disney animated feature, from The Little Mermaid (1989) all the way through to Home on The Range (2004). Last year Lanpher self-published a memoir called Flyin’ Chunks and Other Things to Duck: Memoirs of a Life Spent Doodling for Dollars. The book, and his blog, are well worth reading.

His artist granddaughter, Holly Conrad, sent in this tribute:

“Dorse Lanpher was my hero. He made my artistic career possible with his encouragement and talent, he was like a father to me and his only complaint was that I couldn’t get more famous than him (that would never happen, Grandpa). His animation will live on and so will all that he taught me, even how to play the ukulele. He was proud of me enough to write about me on his blog and in his book and I’m never going to forget to live my life as art, as he always wanted and encouraged me to. And neither should any of us. He lives on in his art and in his words.

He liked like Cherry Pie from Marie Callender’s and Greyhounds. I recommend we all have one in his name, and in the name of those amazing effects that were animated by hand by so many talented artists, my grandpa included, and may they inspire generations of creative people with their magic. They inspired me.”