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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 13 September 1937El Paso, Texas, USA
Birth NameDonald Virgil Bluth

Mini Bio (2)

Don Bluth was one of the chief animators at Disney to come to the mantle after the great one's death. He eventually became the animation director for such films as The Rescuers (1977) and Pete's Dragon (1977). Unfortunately, the quality of animation that Disney was producing at this point was not up to par with the great works of Disney, and there was rumor that the production unit at Disney might be shut down indefinitely. In retaliation, Bluth and several other animators led a walkout, and went off to form their own independent animation firm. Bluth's first animated feature may still be his best. The Secret of NIMH (1982) was an animated film based on the children's book "Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of Nimh". The film dealt with a widowed field mouse named Mrs. Brisbee and her plight to move her house before the farmer plants his field. The rats of Nimh, an organization of super intelligent rats, band together to help her. "The Secret of NIMH" was a visually ravishing film that hearkened back to the glory days of Disney. While animation buffs raved, the film did little business at the box office. (The growing number of VCR's in America would help the film reach a cult status on home video). Undaunted, Bluth persevered. He created the video games Dragon's Lair (1983) and Space Ace (1983), both of which allowed the player to control an actual cartoon. He later teamed up with Steven Spielberg for the films An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988). While Bluth's ambition to restore animation to its previous glory was being realized, the Disney studio, whose recent films had failed to match Bluth's at the box office, was finally ready to return to true quality. With the release of The Little Mermaid (1989) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), Bluth had to compete with a Goliath. After his next film, All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), received mixed opinions and failed to be more than a minor box office success, Bluth fell into a failing streak of films that were comparatively mediocre when placed alongside his previous work, including Rock-A-Doodle (1991), and Thumbelina (1994). Bluth later joined forces with 20th Century Fox where he made his first commercial hit in some time, Anastasia (1997). He followed up with the ambitious but hollow science fiction fantasy Titan A.E. (2000). While Bluth has yet to reach the glory of his earlier work, he nonetheless deserves credit as a champion of animation, and for surviving as an independent film maker.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: ncoxny@earthlink.net

Producer/director Don Bluth is one of the most prestigious animators in the industry, admired by peers all over the world for his creative talent, as well as his versatility in bringing memorable characters to life. While working on his films, Bluth wears many hats. He designs all the characters, serves as key storyboard artist, and when the mood strikes him, he has also been known to write some clever songs to accompany his lively and amusing characters. As if these duties don't keep him busy enough, he also writes and/or collaborates on most of the scripts for his projects.

Bluth was born into a family of seven children in El Paso, Texas. He grew up on a farm in Payson, Utah, in a highly creative environment. After watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), he found his calling. From the age of six on, Don was always drawing. It soon became his dream to work for Walt Disney Studios and to bring his drawings to life as he had seen accomplished in films. In 1954, Don's father moved the family to Santa Monica, California. Upon graduation from high school, Don took a portfolio of his drawings to the Disney Studio in Burbank. He landed a position in the animation department as an "in-betweener". This job required him to create the drawings in between the animator's key drawings to complete a movement. Bluth worked with Disney from 1955 through 1956 on the classic motion picture Sleeping Beauty (1959). He left after one year. Don spent the next two and a half years as a Mormon missionary in Argentina. Upon his return he made the decision to continue his formal education, he enrolled at Brigham Young University, studying English Literature. During this time he continued to work summers for Disney.

After completing his education, he and his brother, Toby, started a live theater in Santa Monica, where they produced and directed popular musical comedies. Although this venture proved to be exciting, after three years, Bluth decided to commit to a career in animation. His first job upon re-entering the animation field was as a layout artist for Filmation Studios, a television production company. In this capacity he was required to draw and design the backgrounds, and create the character poses for the animators. Bluth was extremely adept at this and was soon promoted to the head of the department, where he continued for three years.

In 1971, Bluth returned to Walt Disney Productions as an Animator, beginning what would be considered a skyrocket ride to the top of the animation field. He started as an animator on the feature film Robin Hood (1973). Don was promoted within two years to directing animator on Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974) and The Rescuers (1977). Don was director of animation on Pete's Dragon (1977) and the following year, Producer/Director on The Small One (1978). Inspired by many of Disney's classics and filled with the desire to restore that quality to animated films, Bluth began a short project in his garage with two fellow Disney animators, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. This short project, known as Banjo the Woodpile Cat (1979), began production in March 1975. For the next four-and-a-half years, the trio worked nights and weekends in all areas of production to accomplish the finished project. During this time, they still kept their "day" jobs at Disney.

In early 1979, Bluth, Goldman and Pomeroy were approached by film industry businessmen who offered to fund them on a feature film. "Banjo the Woodpile Cat" served as an excellent portfolio and showed that they could create the "classical" look. In September 1979, the trio resigned from Walt Disney Productions to start their own independent production company. For their first feature film, they selected Robert C. O'Brien's award-winning novel "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H.". In July 1982, they released their first non-Disney animated feature with the altered title, The Secret of NIMH (1982). With the introduction of new laser disc technology in 1983, Bluth and partners created the first interactive laser disc game, Dragon's Lair (1983). Two additional laser disc games followed, Space Ace (1983) and Dragon's Lair II: Timewarp (1991). In December 1984, they began work on the acclaimed family feature about a young mouse's struggle to survive in a new land entitled An American Tail (1986), a collaboration with Steven Spielberg.

In November of 1986, they moved their studio and its employees to Dublin, Ireland at the invitation of the Irish government, where their studio grew to be the largest in Europe. Their third feature film, The Land Before Time (1988), was their first production created entirely in Ireland. Released by universal Pictures during the Thanksgiving, 1988 holiday, it achieved a record-breaking opening weekend gross for an animated film. Their subsequent efforts include All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), Rock-A-Doodle (1991), Thumbelina (1994), and A Troll in Central Park (1994).

Producer/Director Don Bluth returned from Ireland to head up the Fox Animation Studio located in Phoenix, Arizona where he shared the creative leadership with his partner Producer/Director Gary Goldman through June of 2000. During those years the duo produced and directed the hit animated musical Anastasia (1997), which received two Oscar nominations; the direct-to-video musical, Bartok the Magnificent (1999); and the animated space opera Titan A.E. (2000), now on video and DVD.

In early 1999, Bluth agreed to form a new company with Rick Dyer, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy, and David Foster of Digital Leisure. The new company, Dragon's Lair LLC, is in the final stages of development of a new 3D version of the original game, Dragon's Lair. This time the player would have total control of Dirk the Daring. It will be distributed on multiple platforms, including Playstation 2, Game Cube, Xbox, PC and MAC, in the Fall of 2002.

Don has returned to independent filmmaking with partner, Gary Goldman, establishing their new company Don Bluth Films, Inc. Based in Phoenix, Arizona they have begun preproduction work on "Dragon's Lair" the movie. Their web site www.donbluth.com will enable them to communicate directly with their audience. There are plans to expand the web site to include animation education and the sale of animation artwork. Don Bluth has been an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1976.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Don Bluth Films Inc. <dbfilms@donbluth.com>

Trade Mark (7)

Frequently makes movies with animation
His animated features often feature a glittering gold sparkle effect
The children in his films are often either orphaned or separated from their family (Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), Littlefoot, Cera, Petrie, Ducky and Spike in The Land Before Time (1988), Fievel in An American Tail (1986), Anastasia in Anastasia (1997))
Frequently has the main protagonist forced to immigrate to another place (An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), The Secret of NIMH (1982), A Troll in Central Park (1994), Titan A.E. (2000))
Almost always has the main protagonist carrying an object or possession that has an importance to the plot (Charlie's watch in All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), Mrs. Brisby's amulet in The Secret of NIMH (1982), Littlefoot's treestar in The Land Before Time (1988))
Animated films frequently contain dark imagery and pathos

Trivia (3)

Quit Disney on his 41st birthday taking 18 other employees with him.
Mark Flood named Bluth his biggest inspiration.
2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is his second cousin.

Personal Quotes (1)

[on Judith Barsi] She was absolutely astonishing. She understood verbal direction, even for the most sophisticated situations. We loved working with her.

See also

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