Friday, 21 October 2011
Disney Artist Mary Blair's 100th Birthday
Born Mary Browne Robinson, her family moved to Texas when she was very small and moved to California when she was seven years old. She attended San Jose State College, then won a scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1934 she married fellow artist Lee Blair. After graduation she took a job with MGM's animation unit. It was in 1940 that she joined her husband Lee at Disney.
Following Peter Pan Mrs. Blair left Disney to pursue a career as a freelance graphic artist. She worked on advertising campaigns for Nabisco, Persodent, Maxwell House, and Beatrice Foods among others. She also illustrated books for Golden Books, as well as designed sets for Radio City Music Hall's Christmas shows. She served as colour designer on the 1967 movie musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
At the request of Walt Disney himself, Mary Blair worked on the attraction "It's a Small World." She also created the mural art for the Tommorowland Promenade and similar murals.
Mary Blair died at the age of 66 on 26 July 1978 at the age of 67. The cause was a cerebral haemorrhage.
Mary Blair's influence can still be felt on animation to this day. Both Pixar and Disney show her influence, as can be demonstrated by such films as Up and The Princess and The Frog. If Mrs. Blair was one of Disney's favourite artists, it is perhaps because she opened him up to a world much more fantastic than those of his earlier films. It was a world of astounding colours and incredible shapes. Even at a studio as influential and esteemed as Disney, Mary Blair was a singular talent.