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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Disney Legend #23: Mary Blair

The twenty third recipient of a Disney Legend award was the incomparable Mary Blair.

Ms. Blair was born Mary Robinson in McAlester, Oklahoma. She soon found her way west to California, where she took art classes and met her husband. She found work first at MGM. Her eye for color and artistic talents made her an excellent animator. She eventually ended up at The Walt Disney Studios where most talented artists of the time dreamed of working. Mr. Disney was a huge fan of her art and she was put to work painting backgrounds and designing color palettes and the overall look of many classic Disney films.

Her first big project was Saludos Amigos. She actually appears in the film; she was one of the artists who accompanied Walt on his goodwill tour of South America. Her work greatly contributed to the film. 

She also did most of the preliminary work on Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.  

Ms. Blair decided upon an early retirement, choosing to do freelance work and book illustrations. In 1963, however, she was lured out of retirement by Walt Disney with the project she is best known for- "it's a small world".

With its vibrant colors and optimistic view of the world, it was a project tailor made for Ms. Blair's talents. In addition to overseeing the bright colors, adorable animatronics and overall art direction of this classic ride, she was also responsible for the eye catching facade at DISNEYLAND Park.

The ride was an instant classic, beloved by people of all ages from around the world. Ms. Blair's artistry and hard work is evident in the happiest cruise that ever sailed.

Most DISNEYLAND guests have probably never heard of Mary Blair, but her work lives on, putting smiles on the faces of millions. Ms. Blair passed away in 1978, fully aware of the positive influence her work continues to have on the world.