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Marvin Aubrey Davis was a master planner, art director, and scenic designer. He was remembered by Disney fans for turning Walt Disney's idea for Walt Disney World and Epcot into workable site plans as well various buildings in Disneyland.

Born in Clovis, New Mexico; Davis attended UCLA for two years before transferring to the University of Southern California and graduated with a degree in architecture and, as top student in the class of 1935, he also received the prestigious American Institute of Architects medal. Two years later, Marvin won a job at 20th Century Fox, where he worked as an art director on films, such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Asphalt Jungle. In 1953, he was invited by his friend, former Fox art director Dick Irvine, to join WED Enterprises. Today, WED is known as Walt Disney Imagineering.

Davis was instrumental in helping Walt bring his idea of "Disneyland" to life, exactly as he envisioned it. He developed the first diagrammatic plan for Disneyland. On the morning of August 8, 1953, Walt reviewed the site map that Davis was working on and picked up a No. 1 carbon pencil and drew a triangle around the plot of land to indicate where he wanted his railroad to run. That historic drawing still exists today. For two years, Davis worked on more than 100 different versions of the master plan for Disneyland. He designed the exterior of The Haunted Mansion, Sleeping Beauty Castle, and the buildings on Main Street, U.S.A.

After the theme park’s successful opening in the summer of 1955, Marvin returned to art directing, as well as scenic design for motion pictures, which included Moon Pilot, Babes in Toyland, and Big Red, and television series as Zorro and Mickey Mouse Club. In 1962, he received an Emmy Award® for art direction and scenic design on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Outside of Disney, he worked on shows, like Father of the Bride and Corky and White Shadow.

In 1965, Davis returned to WED as a project designer for Walt Disney World in Florida, at time was known as The Florida Project. He devised the master plan for the Magic Kingdom theme park and Walt’s futuristic city of EPCOT. Following Walt's death in 1966, Davis continued to work on the project under Roy O. Disney when it was decided to make a resort instead. He contributed to the design of resort hotels, including the Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, and the Golf Resort. The resort opened in 1971 and, after 22 years with the company, Davis retired in 1975. In 1994, he was inducted as a Disney Legend alongside Adriana Caselotti, William Cottrell, and fellow Imagineer Bill Martin.

Davis passed away on March 8, 1998 in Santa Monica, California.

Filmography[]

Year Film Position
1955-1958 Mickey Mouse Club Art director
1955 Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier Art director
1955-1965 The Magical World of Disney Art director
1956 Westward Ho, the Wagons! Art director
1957-1961 Zorro Art director
Production Designer: "Presenting Señor Zorro" - uncredited
1961 Babes in Toyland Art director
1962 Moon Pilot Art director
1962 Bon Voyage! Art director
1962 Big Red Art director
1962 Mooncussers Art director
1963 Savage Sam Art director
1964 A Tiger Walks Art director
1966 The Ugly Dachshund Art director
1966 Follow Me, Boys! Art director

Trivia[]

  • His wife, Marjorie, was one of the first live-action Disney stars appearing in "Clara Cleans Her Teeth" in 1926 and was Walt's favorite niece.
  • When Walt was visiting Florida anonymously to check out a property, he borrowed Davis' last name as part of the pseudonym, "Walter E. Davis." the initials "WED" matched the initials on Walt's luggage.
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Walt Disney Animation Studios transparent logo
1920s—1970s
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

1980s—present
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

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