Disney, Bluth effects animator Dorse Lanpher dies

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Dorse Lanpher

Dorse Lanpher

Dorse Lanpher, “the Grand Old Master of effects animation,” has died, The Animation Guild (Local 839 IATSE) announced Sunday. He was 76.

He died at home, getting ready to go out to eat with old effects crew buddies, according to reports from friends.

Over his 48-year career, Lanpher’s Disney credits included Sleeping Beauty, The Rescuers, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. “He’d (almost) worked on everything worth working on, and passed his knowledge on to others,” said guild business representative Steve Hulett.

Bluth functioned as director of effects animation at Don Bluth Productions in the 1980s after heading the special effects animation department at Disney.

Born Dorse A. Lanpher on June 10, 1935, he worked with Don Bluth on such projects as The Secret of NIMH, Dragon’s Lair and An American Tail.

He had been an industrial design major at what is now called Art Center College of Design, but dropped out. “I quit art school in 1956. For me, that’s when animation started,” he said in a 1982 interview with Fantastic Films. “I had heard that the Disney Studio was looking for people to work on Sleeping Beauty. Oddly, I had never really thought about animation before. So I walked down Mickey Mouse Lane and got myself a job.”

His debut in animation came in 1959, when he was an uncredited assistant effects animator for Sleeping Beauty. Also uncredited, he was an effects assistant for One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) and an assistant animator on Disney’s The Sword in the Stone (1963).

Lanpher first received screen credit as the animation director of 1967’s The Three Faces of Stanley, an educational short for the American Cancer Society.

He was supervising effects animator for 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture.

He was an effects animator for the movies Pete’s Dragon and The Rescuers (both 1977), The Black Hole (1979), Oliver & Company and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (both 1988), The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994) and Pocahontas (1995). In addition, Lanpher was an effects animator for the shorts The Small One (1978), Banjo the Woodpile Cat (1979) and The Prince and the Pauper (1990).

Lanpher did special effects animation for Xanadu (1980), The Secret of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988) and Fantasia/2000 (1999), as well as the theatrical shorts Roller Coaster Rabbit (1990) and Trail Mix-Up (1993).

Later, he was a visual effects animator for the Disney movies The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997), Mulan (1998), Tarzan (1999), The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) and Home on the Range (2004)

For TV-movies, he was an animation director and animator for Christmas Is (1970), Easter Is and The City That Forgot About Christmas (both 1974), and Freedom Is (1976).

Flyin' Chunks and Other Things to Duck

Flyin' Chunks and Other Things to Duck

Last year, Lanpher self-published a memoir, Flyin’ Chunks and Other Things to Duck: Memoirs of a Life Spent Doodling for Dollars.

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