Last Living Animator of the Golden Age Dies But His Work Lives On

Don Lusk might not be a name you recognize, but it is someone whose work you have probably seen your entire life. He was an animator from the Golden Age of Disney and began his work there in 1933.

Lusk was born in 1913 and passed away at the age of 105, but during his career he was involved in a variety of Disney’s super hits. Out of the 17 movies that were released between Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and 101 Dalmations Lusk was a part of 13 of them.

Other movies he was involved in include Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, and Sleeping Beauty. It’s clear that without him, Disney might have turned out to be much different.

If you’re not familiar with the Golden Age of Disney, it began in 1937 when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937. It was the first full-length Disney animation that was completely traditionally animated. It also defined Disney as an animation stalwart.

But creating movie animations for Disney wasn’t the only thing at Disney he was involved in. On May 29, 1941, Lusk joined 33 other Disney employees in a five-week long strike. Rumor has it that the animators for Disney had some of the best working conditions and best pay in the country, but that apparently wasn’t enough. They believed they deserved more than the stipulated pay of $87.50 per week.

The strike, however, made incredible strides for the animation industry. It forced studios to recognize labor unions and paved the way for the rise of several new studios. It also led to the release of several artistic styles that had previously been subdued by rigid guidelines.

After his return to Disney, Lusk was assigned to train at Quantico, Virginia, in preparation as a marine during World War II. After the war came to an end, he returned to his work at Disney.

When his stint came to an end at Disney, he worked at UPA, Walter Lantz, DePatie-Freleng, and Bill Melendez Productions. During that time some of his most loved work was the Peanuts specials.

Eventually he became involved with Hanna-Barbera and directed over 100 episodes of the cartoon The Smurfs. He also discovered his penchant for directing.

He directed several shows including A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Yo Yogi!, Jonny Quest, The Flintstone Kids, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and many more.

At the age of 80, Lusk retired from the industry and was awarded the Winsor McCay Award for his contributions to the animation industry. Clearly, many people have been touched by Lusk throughout his lifetime.

Check out the video below that showcases many of his works with Disney and be sure to share it with your family and friends.

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