Glen Keane quits Disney Animation after 38 years

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Glen Keane

Glen Keane

Glen Keane, an animator with Walt Disney Animation Studios on such classics as The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty And The Beast(1991) and Aladdin (1992), announced Friday that he’s leaving the company after a 38-year gig.

“After an incredible 38-year career as an animator, storyteller, and filmmaking pioneer with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Glen Keane has decided that the time has come to take the next step in his personal exploration of the art of animation,” said a Disney spokesperson. “As much as we are saddened by his departure, we respect his desires and wish him the very best with all his future endeavors.”

Although the studio has been his “artistic home,” Keane said in a letter sent to his co-workers, he had decided after “long and thoughtful consideration” that there are “endless new territories to explore,” so he’s looking elsewhere.

Glen Keane is the son of the late cartoonist Bil Keane, creator of The Family Circus.

He was largely responsible for such characters as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and the title characters in Aladdin, Pocahontas (1995) and Tarzan (1999).

His last Disney project was Tangled (2010), for which he was credited as animation supervisor and directing animator for the character of Rapunzel. According to one insider, Keane has been developing several ideas, but was not attached to any future project at Disney at the time of his departure.

Many in the animation community were shocked that he was leaving the Mouse House. “He’s such a Disney icon and an inspiration to so many people,” remarked one source.

“I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me — Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston — as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years,” Keane said in his letter, which was posted on animation site Cartoon Brew. “I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist its siren call to step out and discover them.”

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