Marc Fraser Davis (March 30, 1913 – January 12, 2000) was a prominent American artist, animator and Imagineer. He dedicated his creative genius to helping Walt Disney realize his dreams, ranging from perfecting the animated story to creating the world's first theme park, Disneyland. Davis was one of Disney's Nine Old Men for his knowledge and understanding of visual aesthetics, the famed core animators of Disney animated films.
A brilliant draftsman, Davis also designed the characters for many Disneyland ride and show animatronics, including Pirates of the Caribbean. In 1989, Marc Davis was named a Disney Legend. Davis died in January 2000. That same month, the Marc Fraser Davis Scholarship Fund formally was established at the California Institute of the Arts.
An only child of Harry and Mildred Davis, Marc Davis was born on March 30, 1913, in Bakersfield, California, where his father was engaged in oil field developments. Wherever a new oil boom developed, the family moved with Harry and as a result, Marc attended more than 20 different schools across the country while growing up.
After high school, he enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute, followed by the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. While studying, Marc spent hours at the zoo drawing animals, which became one of his specialties. His story drawings for Bambi are still considered some of the finest studies of animal characters ever created at Walt Disney Studios.
Career at Disney
Animator, artist, Imagineer, Marc Davis dedicated his creative genius to helping Walt Disney realize his dreams, ranging from perfecting the animated story to creating the world's first theme park, Disneyland. About his years at Disney, Marc once said, "I rarely felt confined to the animation medium. I worked as an idea man and loved creating characters, whether they be for animation or any other medium."
Marc joined Disney in 1935 as an apprentice animator on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and moved on to story sketch and character design on "Bambi" and "Victory Through Air Power." Over the years, he animated on such Disney classic features as "Song of the South," "Cinderella" and "Alice in Wonderland," as well as shorts, including "African Diary," "Duck Pimples" and "Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom." Davis is probably best known as the father of some of Disney's most memorable animated women, including Cruella De Vil in "101 Dalmatians," Maleficent in "Sleeping Beauty" and Tinker Bell in "Peter Pan." When once asked to choose a favorite among his bevy of grand Disney dames, he replied, "Each of my women characters has her own unique style; I love them all in different ways."
Marc Davis later transferred to Disney's design and development organization, today known as Walt Disney Imagineering. As one of Disney's original Imagineers, Marc contributed whimsical story and character concepts for such Disneyland attractions as The Enchanted Tiki Room, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion and The Jungle Cruise.
After 43 years with the Studio, Marc retired in 1978, but continued to lend his expertise to the development of EPCOT and Tokyo Disneyland. He and his wife, Alice, who designed costumes for Audio-Animatronics characters featured in Pirates of the Caribbean and It's a Small World, have been long-time supporters of California Institute of the Arts, which was founded by Walt Disney.
Death and Legacy
Marc Davis died January 12, 2000, in Glendale, California. His work would be appreciated among Disney fans. Davis' contributions to Pirates of the Caribbean, most notably his artwork, would be of use in the film franchise as well as the 2012 attraction The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. Marc Davis' name was likely used for a character named the "Marquis D'avis", a character from the Pirates short film Tales of the Code: Wedlocked.