Norman Ferguson (Animator of the hag)

A wickedly good animator

Norman Ferguson, known affectionately as “Fergy,” was a pioneering animator renowned for his groundbreaking work at Disney Studios. After studying advertising at the Pratt Institute, Ferguson began his career as a cameraman at Paul Terry’s animation studios in 1920, swiftly rising to become one of the studio’s key animators. He joined Disney in 1929, contributing to iconic shorts like the Silly Symphonies and Mickey Mouse series.

Ferguson’s talent lay in his ability to infuse characters with realism and psychology, compensating for his drawing skills with impeccable timing and observation. His animation of Pluto’s attempts to get rid of a piece of flypaper in Playful Pluto (1934) set a standard emulated by animators for years to come. Notably, his work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs defined the character of the witch, drawing inspiration from actor Lionel Barrymore.

His influence extended beyond character animation. Ferguson pioneered techniques such as overlapping action, enhancing fluidity in movement, and advocated for the use of rough drafts over finalized drawings, shaping a new generation of animators.

Transitioning to supervision roles, Ferguson directed memorable sequences in films like Fantasia and Dumbo, and supervised production on classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Peter Pan marked his final contribution to Disney before retiring in 1953, feeling outpaced by animation advancements.

Norman Ferguson’s legacy endures as a visionary animator and mentor, influencing generations of artists. He passed away in November 1957, leaving behind a rich cinematic heritage celebrated in documentaries like Pluto’s Pal Fergy.

Undoubtedly, the most prolific and the one we looked up to the most was Norm Ferguson. He had this great talent for timing and staging, and yet, when we looked on his drawings, we couldn’t understand how this ever got on the screen; he’d do a Pluto with just a few lines, very crude, but because he worked so fast…

Ward Kimball

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