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Art Stevens, 92; Disney animator, director, producer

June 30, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

Art Stevens, a veteran Disney animator who launched his career at the studio working as an artist on the 1940 classic "Fantasia" and later co-directed "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Rescuers," has died.

He was 92.

Stevens died May 22 at his home in Studio City after suffering a heart attack, a Disney spokesman said.

Among Stevens' credits as an animator are "Peter Pan," "101 Dalmatians," "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," "Robin Hood," "Mary Poppins" and the underwater sequence in "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."

He co-directed "The Rescuers" (1977) with Wolfgang Reitherman and John Lounsbery.

He and Reitherman produced "The Fox and the Hound," which Stevens co-directed with Ted Berman and Richard Rich.

It became the studio's highest-grossing film when it was released in 1981.

Born in Roy, Mont., on May 1, 1915, Stevens began his career as an in-betweener -- an artist who makes the drawings between the animator's key poses -- on "Fantasia."

He worked on the "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," "Pastoral Symphony," "Nutcracker Suite" and "A Night on Bald Mountain" segments of the movie.

He was also an in-betweener on "Bambi" and several other features before becoming a full character animator on "Peter Pan" (1953).

Stevens provided story concepts and did animation for three landmark television documentaries on space exploration that were produced and directed by Disney animation legend Ward Kimball for the "Disneyland" TV series in the 1950s: "Man in Space" (1955), "Man and the Moon" (1955) and "Mars and Beyond" (1957).

He also worked with Kimball on the Academy Award-winning Disney featurettes "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" and "It's Tough to Be a Bird."

And he helped design and animate the title sequences for the Disney features "Freaky Friday," "No Deposit, No Return," "The Strongest Man in the World" and "The North Avenue Irregulars."

Stevens retired from Disney in 1983.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Penny; his sons, Craig and Kent; and four grandchildren.

Instead of flowers, his family suggests that donations be made in his name to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY, 10018; or to the Macular Degeneration Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 531313, Henderson, NV, 89053.

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