Know your Idols: Milt Kahl

Milt Kahl (1909-1987) 

Referred to as “The Animation Michelangelo,” Milt Kahl was one of “Disney’s Nine Old Men.” This master draftsman was assigned the toughest characters of any project, predominately human subjects. Kahl is known for his work, bringing some of Disney’s most notable characters to life, in Peter pan, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, The Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, The Jungle Book, and many others.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Kahl dropped out of high school to pursue a career in art. While studying with local artists, he would create layouts for Oakland Post-Enquirer and the San Francisco Bulletin. Ultimately Kahl went into business for himself, but his timing was poor. The Great Depression struck hard across the United States and it was during this time that Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies gained recognition. 

Disney took on Kahl in 1934, the same year he began work on what was referred to as “Disney’s Folly.”  Of course, we refer to it today as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the first full-length animated feature film made in Technicolor in America and the most successful motion picture of 1938.  This film marks the beginning of “The Golden Age of Animation.” Shortly after joining Disney, Kahl became one of his core animators, all of which are considered legends today or “Disney’s Nine Old Men.” As a team they garnered much respect and they are credited with refining The 12 Basic Principles of Animation, and essentially blazing a trail for future generations.

In 1976, Kahl retired and moved back to San Francisco and in 1987 America lost another star.

In 1989, he was officially recognized as one of the Disney Legends

Read in interview with Milt Kahl-


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