Eric Larson

Birth/Death 9/03/1905 - 10/25/1988

Animation Director

Bio Summary
Born in Cleveland, Eric Larson had initially planned to major in journalism, but, quite accidentally, ended up working at the Disney Studio. Starting as an in-betweener, Larson very soon was promoted to assistant animator and then to Animation director because of his drawing talents. Larson worked on such memorable characters as Cinderella, the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, and the famous flight of Peter and friends to Neverland in Peter Pan. Toward the end of his career, he had trained many of todays major figures in the art: Tim Burton, Henry Selick, Brad Bird, John Pomeroy, Gary Goldman, Ron Clements, John Musker, Bill Kroyer, and Andy Gaskill.

Early Life/Family
Eric was born in Cleveland, Utah. The eldest of five brothers and two sisters. His father is Lars Peter, and his mother is Nora Oveson, both moved to Salt Lake City from Demark in the late 19th century. Eric was a devoted Mormon though not in the “extreme” sense.

He attended Lather Day Saint University (a high school) and cultivated an interest for art, illustrating for the year book and becoming its art directer in his final year at the school. In 1925, he entered the University of Utah, majoring journalism.

Career Outline
Leaving the University after a traumatic and embarrassing accident, Eric was offered a job with commercial A&E in Los Angeles. After his marriage, he tried to seek another job and ended up getting hired in Disney Studio where he would work for the rest of his life.

Comments On Style
In Cock O’ the Walk (1935), Three Little Wolves (1936) and Snow White (1937)Larson brought personality and charm to the depicted animals. To maintains its fluidity with the animals in Snow White, Larson didn’t animate the animals in different levels but posited every one of them on one sheet.

Richard Creedon and Ben Sharpsteen had been like “father” figures to Larson, giving him practical advice when he first started at Disney studio. After spending five weeks as an in-betweener, Larson’s animation talent was noticed by Hamilton S. Luske who promoted him to his own assistant. Luske was a highly inspirational figure for Larson because of former’s analytical contribution to personality animation - caricature movement. Larson learned a lot about animation theory and technique from Luske.

Larson was a gentle person with a deep voice and usually a beautiful white smile on his masculine face. His was, to most of his “young charges,” a grandfather figure, having the patience and care to work with them through their problems in animation.

While Larson was in the University of Utah, he was given a shared office to do his works. A tragic incident happened in the office that forced him to leave the University. One of the key keepers of the office brought some friends to the office and one of them (a foot ball player) fell through the glass ceiling and died. Although Larson had nothing to do with it, some of the year book staffers and faculty members blamed him for it. He became so self conscious that he decided to leave the University and started working with commercial A&E.

Because of Larson’s journalism background, he was able to condense character emotions through speech into fewer words.

Two-Gun Mickey (1934)
Cock O’ the Walk (1935)
Three Little Wolves (1936)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Farmyard Symphony (1938)
The Ugly Duckling (1939)
Pinocchio (1940)
Fantasia (1940)
Bambi (1942)
Cinderella (1950)
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Peter Pan (1953)
Lady and theTramp (1955)
101 Dalmatians (1961)
the Jungle Book (1967)
Robin Hood (1973)
the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)


Related Links

Bibliographic References
Canemaker, John. Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men. 2001.

Contributors To This Listing
Jia Li, John Canemaker

Research Path
John Canemaker’s “Nine Old Men”

Animators Hall of Fame