After the success of 1988′s ? The Disney folks offered animation director Richard Williams more feature projects, but Dick preferred to focus on his personal project, the Thief and the Cobbler. So Disney turned to Dick’s former lieutenant and top animator Dick Purdum, who came recommended by many in the animation scene. By then Dick and his wife Jill Thomas had their own studio in .
Dick took the job to direct Beauty & the Beast if he could do some of the initial preproduction in , and a research trip was added to get texture for the French setting.
Ahh… our sojourn in France on Beauty & Beast! Summer 1989 I think.
I recall Don Hahn was referred to by our guide as Le Grande Moustachoux, the Big Mustache One. But she didn’t like me, because I kept correcting her historical trivia as we toured the Medieval Chateaux. As elderly Madame Dupin told Balzac at the Chateaux of Chenonceaux ” A woman who can fart, is not yet dead..” I was pretty annoying. While trying to learn French, I gave Hans Bacher lessons on Hollywood Yiddish- Schmaltz, Chutzspah. His favorite was Schmutz. He musta been looking at my drawings.
We had to share double up rooms in some of the hotels, so Thom Enriquez and I made a lot of jokes about our one Night together in Paris! Glen Keane grew a reddish beard that was quite fetching. He looked like Van Gogh with both ears. But his wife Linda thought it was yucky, so he shaved it as soon as he got back to LA.
What was retained from our European sojourn was Andreas Deja and Glen Keane’s development of Gaston and the Beast. Also the preliminary designs for the Beast Castle based on the grande Chateaux like Chambord and Azay le Rideau, and color studies of the French provincial countryside. Also we took with us a new appreciation for Loire Valley wines!
Memories by: Tom Sito
Photos care of: Jean Gillmore
Tags: Walt Disney Animation