Biography: Preston Blair

This posting is a stub. You can contribute to this entry by providing information through the comments link at the bottom of this post. Please organize your information following the main category headers below….

Birth/Death

Birth: 1908 Redlands California
Death: April-1995

Occupation/Title

Animator, Designer, Director, Producer, Author, Watercolorist

Bio Summary

Early Life/Family

Preston was born in Redlands California and spent his whole life in Southern California working for 50 years on animation.

Education/Training

Preston attended Pomona College, Otis Art Institute, and studied Illustration at Chouinard. During the Depression Preston paid ten dollars a week to learn to animate and the animation studio Romer Gray.

Career Outline

Preston Started as a fine artist and exhibited in the California Watercolor Society and the American Watercolor Society in New York. When Preston worked in animation, he accomplished many notable achievements. During the 1940’s he worked for Walt Disney Studio’s. He designed and animated the hippos in the “Dance of the Hours” and animated Mickey from the “Sorcerers Apprentice” sequences from fantasia (Notably in the Whirpool scene). He also animated on the other Disney classics, Pinocchio and Bambi. Later, he worked for MGM. He directed the Barney Bear shorts and designed Red Hot Riding Hood from the Tex Avery Shorts. He also produced commercials, educational films, and half hour cartoon episodes like the Flintstones. He also put out his book through Walter Foster on how to animate which is the most popular book on animation, along with the Richard Williams book.

Comments On Style

Preston’s style is marked by a solidity of volumes, combined with expressive squash and stretch. His draftsmanship was of the top order.

On animating “Red Hot Riding Hood”
“Blair is quick to point out that contrary to some reports, the Girl-so sexy, so real- was not rotoscoped, but created entirely from his own artistic imagination. As a former illustrator, he was accustomed  to creating the illusion of reality, even when, as in this case, it was achieved by breaking  anatomical rules and using cartoon license.”
(p. 289 Leonard Maltin, “Of Mice and Magic”, 1980)
Influences

Personality

Anecdotes

Blair was the first animator on the Sorcerer’s Apprentice/Fantasia. The first scene animated on the film was of Mickey waking up after his dream, falling in the water & running though it towards the broom.

Blair Recalls “The Girl just ‘happened’ in the Avery MGM Epics. The first of the Girl pictures ["Red Hot Riding Hood"] was planned strictly around the wolf and the ‘Peter Arno’ grandmother [who was] crazy about wolves. I animated the first Girl scene, and we looked at it with the crazy wild wolf reaction. Avery, ever on his mental toes, was quick to reinforce the Girl character, even in the first picture. The reaction was instantaneous, even on the main lot. It created such an uproar in some theaters that the management was forced to stop the feature and return the cartoon.
“One of the greatest compliments I have ever received in my life happened on the second or third ‘Red’ picture, Somebody, at night, stole several of the ‘Red’ cels right off the camera stand before the cameraman had a chance to photograph them. We where all in a panic the next day. Fortunately I had saved my original roughs, and it was simple to clean up, re-ink, ad paint these cels. ‘Red’ was worth stealing…Wow!”
(p. 287-289, Leornard Maltin, “Of Mice and Magic”, 1980)
Miscellaneous

Filmography

Columbia/Mintz:
Little House Keeping (1932) (animator)
Prosperity Blues (1932) (animator)
The Minstrel Show (1932) (animator)
Wedding Bells (1933) (animator)
Wooden Shoes (1933) (animator)
Bunnies and Bonnets (1933) (animator)
Antique Antics (1933) (animator)
Disney:
Pinocchio (1940) (animator) 
Fantasia (1940) (animator) (segments “Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The” and “Dance of the Hours”)
Bambi (1942) (animator)
MGM:
Blitz Wolf (1942) (animator)
The Early Bird Dood It! (1942) (animator)
Red Hot Riding Hood (1943) (animator) 
One Ham’s Family (1943) (animator)
What’s Buzzin’ Buzzard? (1943) (animator)
Screwball Squirrel (1944) (animator)
Batty Baseball (1944) (animator)
Happy-Go-Nutty (1944) (animator)
Big Heel-Watha (1944) (animator) aka Buck of the Month
The Screwy Truant (1945) (animator)
Jerky Turkey (1945) (animator)
The Shooting of Dan McGoo (1945) (animator) aka The Shooting of Dan McScrew
Swing Shift Cinderella (1945) (animator) aka Swingshift Cinderella (USA: poster title)
Wild and Woolfy (1945) (animator) aka Robinson’s Screwball
Lonesome Lenny (1946) (animator)
The Hick Chick (1946) (animator)
Northwest Hounded Police (1946) (animator) aka The Man Hunt
Henpecked Hoboes (1946) (animator)
Hound Hunters (1947) (animator)
Red Hot Rangers (1947) (animator)
Uncle Tom’s Cabaña (1947) (animator)
Lucky Ducky (1948) (animator)
Bad Luck Blackie (1949) (animator)
Senor Droopy (1949) (animator)
Director – filmography MGM

The Bear and the Bean (1948) ?
The Bear and the Hare (1948) aka Snowshoe Baby
Goggle Fishing Bear (1949) aka Goggle Fishing
Hanna Barbera:
“The Flintstones” (1960) TV Series (animator)
Filmation
Journey Back to Oz (1974) (associate producer)

Honors

Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1985

Related Links

IMDB Listing

Bibliographic References

“Cartoon Animation”, by Preston Blair. Published by Walter Foster
“Of Mice and Magic” by Leonard Maltin. Published by McGraw-Hill

Contributors To This Listing

Josh Reed
Larry Loc

Michael Ruocco

To make additions or corrections to this listing, please click on COMMENTS below…

Leave a Reply