Thursday, September 7, 2017

Happy Birthday Freddy!

September 7, 1911 marks the birth of one of the finest talents that ever raised a pencil at Disney Studios, Fred Moore. Although many talented artists have contributed to the Disney family of classic animation over the years I would have to say that "Freddy" as he was called of by his friends, had to be one of the biggest contributors to what is referred to as "That Disney look". One of the nine old men, Marc Davis, used to say simply, "... Fred Moore WAS Disney drawing."

Freddy had no formal art training and his intuitive approach was often referred to as "natural". He didn't like the "rubber hose" approach of limb construction used in the early Mickeys and added more underlying form. The facial features became more appealing under his pencils with cheek, brow and even ear shapes employing more anatomical form yet keeping the basic principles of squash and stretch intact. He is also THE artist credited with ridding Mickey Mouse of his "pie-eyes" with the short, "The Pointer", and giving him the artistic upgrade we basically still see today. Check out the poster for "The Pointer" above left and you'll see they mistakenly still used the "pie eyes" while a frame grab on the right from the film itself clearly shows the new eye design courtesy of Fred. He was the key animator for "The Three Little Pigs", animation supervisor of the dwarfs on "Snow White", and of course the mermaids in "Peter Pan" to list just a few of his contributions along with his legendary "Freddy Moore Girls" which were eagerly sought after back then as well as today.

Two of his closest friends at the Disney studio were the "Wild W" Ranch of Ward Kimball and Walt Kelly. Fred's antics paled next to those two talented but crazy clowns but nevertheless spilled out beautifully on paper. If you haven't seen it I would suggest you view "The Nifty Nineties", one of my favorite Mickey Mouse shorts and you get a glimpse of the hilarious 'Kimball and Moore" song and dance men, "Two Clever Boys from Illinois" animated by Ward Kimball. Fred is also found briefly in the Walt Disney Studio "tour" in the 1941 feature film, "The Reluctant Dragon" along with his pal Ward and other Disney artists.

Walt always commented wistfully concerning the scope of his amazing entertainment empire, "...that it was all started by a mouse." Well Fred Moore certainly helped Mickey and many other lovable Disney characters along that magical path. As I write this I am looking at a couple of Freddie's large character pieces we have framed on one wall, one a watercolor and ink and the other thick lead but both expressive of his immense talent and knack of appealing design. And yes, I included a "hidden Mickey" in this banner in honor of the "Maestro of Mickey."

Happy Birthday Freddy! -MP