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John Hench was an American Imagineer and Disney Legend. He attended the Art Students' League in New York City, New York and received a scholarship to Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, California. He also attended the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1939, he joined Disney as a sketch artist in the story department working on Fantasia.

Always eager to learn, John accepted a variety of tasks over the years, including painting backgrounds on Dumbo and layouts for The Three Caballeros. His other film credits include art supervision on Make Mine Music, cartoon art treatments for So Dear to My Heart color and styling for Peter Pan, and animation effects for The Living Desert. In 1954, his special effects work on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea won an Oscar. He also worked with Salvador Dali on the story of Destino in the 1940s and when the project was revived in 1999, he served as a consultant to help the team interpret the original artwork.

That same year, John left the Studio to work at what is today known as Walt Disney Imagineering, where his first assignment was to design attractions for the original Tomorrowland in Disneyland. Later in 1960, John worked closely with Walt in developing the pageantry, opening and closing ceremonies and daily presentations for the VIII Winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley, as well as attractions for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. He later helped master plan Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland and develop ideas for theme parks, including Disney's California Adventure, Animal Kingdom, and Tokyo DisneySea.

John was also Mickey Mouse's official corporate portrait artist, having painted Mickey's portrait for his 25th (1953), 50th (1978), 60th (1988), 70th (1998), and finally, 75th (2003) birthdays. In 1999, John Hench celebrated his 60th year with the company. John Hench died on February 5, 2004, in Burbank, California.

He recalled one of those lessons, "Walt always said, 'You get down to Disneyland at least twice a month and you walk in the front entrance, don't walk in through the back. Eat with the people. Watch how they react to the work you've done down there.' This made an enormous difference in how we approached our work."

An eternal flame-bearer and senior vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering, John carried on Walt's ideals and standards. His assistant and confidante, Sandy Huskins said, "Sometimes John says, 'Tomorrow, we're going to the Park,' and we'll go down, stand in line and pretend we're guests. I always come back with a full load of notes."

Disney Filmography[]

Year Film Position
1940 Fantasia background artist: "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor"
"Nutcracker Suite"
1941 Dumbo backgrounds
1944 The Three Caballeros layout artist
1946 Make Mine Music art supervisor
background artist: "Blue Bayou"
layout artist: "Willie the Operatic Whale"
1947 Fun and Fancy Free layout
1948 Melody Time layout artist - uncredited
1948 So Dear to My Heart cartoon art treatment
1949 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad color and styling
1950 Cinderella color and styling
1951 Alice in Wonderland color and styling
1951 Nature's Half Acre animation effects
1952 Water Birds animation effects
1952 The Olympic Elk animation effects
1952 Water Birds animation effects
1953 Peter Pan color and styling
1953 Prowlers of the Everglades animation effects
1953 The Alaskan Eskimo animator
1953 The Living Desert animation effects
1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea production illustrator - uncredited
special effects
1954-1965 The Magical World of Disney Artist
Animation effects
1955 Contrasts in Rhythm story
1959 Donald in Mathmagic Land styling
1984 The Disney Family Album Himself
2000 Clair de Lune background artist
2003 Destino story

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Disney's Nine Old Men: Milt KahlFrank ThomasOllie JohnstonLes ClarkJohn LounsberyMarc DavisWard KimballEric LarsonWolfgang Reitherman

Animators: Bill TytlaArt BabbittLee BlairPreston BlairFred MooreShamus CulhaneCy YoungDon LuskNorman FergusonHal KingJack HannahDick KinneyHal AmbroKen O'BrienJudge WhitakerBill JusticeDon BluthGary GoldmanCharles A. NicholsBlaine GibsonJohn EwingWalt StanchfieldRolly CrumpFred HellmichAmby PaliwodaWilfred JacksonXavier AtencioBen SharpsteenEarl HurdDale OliverEric CleworthDavid HandFred SpencerJulius SvendsenJack BradburyKenneth MuseRudolf IsingHugh HarmanFriz FrelengWalt KellyLeo SalkinJohn DehnerRetta ScottDavid SwiftMel ShawJack CuttingGrant SimmonsArt StevensFrank TashlinWathel RogersTyrus WongJohnny Cannon
Visual Development, Layout, Background Artists and Character Designers: Gustaf TenggrenMary BlairMarjorie RalstonLillian BoundsJoe GrantMel ShawClaude CoatsDon DaGradiJohn HenchEyvind EarleKen O'ConnorThor PutnamAlbert HurterJohn HubleyHerbert RymanDon GriffithBasil DavidovichJack BoydPeter EllenshawRuthie TompsonEarl DuvallRetta DavidsonUb IwerksVance GerryHazel SewellJames BodreroLance NolleyGrace BaileyMaurice NobleDale BarnhartAndy EngmanEustace LycettJohn EmersonJoe Hale
Storyboard Artists and Writers: Bill PeetRalph WrightDick HuemerFloyd NormanYale GraceyTed SearsErdman PennerJoe RinaldiWinston HiblerOtto EnglanderWilliam CottrellBill BergAl BertinoT. HeeHomer BrightmanTed OsbourneLarry ClemmonsHarry ReevesJesse MarshChuck CouchWebb SmithDick Sebast
Directors: Clyde GeronimiHamilton LuskeJack KinneyTed BermanRichard RichGeorge ScribnerRiley ThomsonDick LundyJack KingBurt GillettJames AlgarBill RobertsLarry Lansburgh
Producers: Walt DisneyRon MillerKen AndersonDon DuckwallPerce PearceMargaret J. Winkler

Renaissance Directors: Rob MinkoffRoger AllersGary TrousdaleKirk WiseChris SandersMark DindalJohn Musker

Story Trust Directors: Ron ClementsChris BuckByron HowardDon HallChris WilliamsRich MooreStephen J. AndersonNathan GrenoFawn Veerasunthorn
Producers: Peter Del VechoClark SpencerRoy ConliDorothy McKimDon HahnShane Morris
Chief Creative Officer: Jennifer Lee
Associated Figures: Bob IgerRoy Edward DisneyMichael EisnerJohn LasseterEd CatmullJeffrey KatzenbergBob Chapek
Signature Voice Actors: Jim CummingsAlan TudykKatie LowesJohn DiMaggioMaurice LaMarcheJodi BensonDavid Ogden StiersJesse CortiPaul BriggsRaymond S. PersiPhil JohnstonFrank WelkerBill FarmerBrian Cummings
Signature Musicians: Robert B. Sherman Richard M. Sherman Alan Menken Kristen Anderson-Lopez Robert LopezLin-Manuel MirandaHoward AshmanTim RicePhil CollinsStephen SchwartzMarc ShaimanDanny Troob
Supervising Animators: Glen KeaneAndreas DejaEric GoldbergMark HennJohn PomeroyRandy HaycockDale BaerTony BancroftTom BancroftTony FucileAnthony DeRosaRuss EdmondsRandy HaycockBruce W. SmithDuncan MarjoribanksRuben AquinoNik RanieriRon HusbandRick FarmiloeTom SitoTony AnselmoWill FinnKathy Zielinski
Visual Development & Storyboard Artists: Dean DeBloisClaire KeaneBrittney LeeJin KimShiyoon KimRyan Green