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Author Topic: Vance Gerry
Steve G
IE # 12
Member # 169

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I just recieved the sad news. Vance was a great guy....

Story artist and writer VANCE GERRY, who lent his talents to Disney projects
for fifty years, died March 4 of cancer at the age of seventy-five.

There will be a memorial this Friday, March 11 at 1 pm, at the Annandale
Golf Club, 1 N. San Rafael Ave. in Pasadena. Lunch will be served, so please
RSVP to Jim Lorson at (714) 526-2523 or


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Icon 9 posted      Profile for Semaj   Email Semaj         Edit/Delete Post 

[Frown] [bawling] [frown]

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very sad news
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Mr. Fun
IE # 63
Member # 352

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I've lost a colleague and a good friend.

When this kid started on "The Jungle Book" back in the sixties, I knew nothing about story. Vance Gerry was my mentor. An incredible talent, Vance could accomplish more work in one day than most story artists could do it a week. He was the most easy going, laid back guy I ever worked with. Totally unflappable, Vance could pitch to the lowest Jr. story guy or to Walt Disney in the same relaxed manner.

An old Disney guy, Vance usually had all the answers on how to make any story work. The fools who run Disney seldom sought his advice. Even after he retired he still came in every Wednesday to lend his considerable talent to various projects. I tried to time my visits to Feature Animation on days he was there.

Now, he's gone. Take heed, guys. Everything good about Disney is disappearing before your very eyes.

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Anyone who knew Vance knows how horrible a day this is. I am sick to my stomache. There is nobody out there who had the breadthe of talent that Vance had. The layout, staging, entertainment sense, the character developement, the value focal shading, the color abilities, the eye direction. He knew it all better than anyone else. He was such a humble easy going guy that the hot white spotlight of fame somehow overlooked one of its superstars. Only the few in house lucky ones got to experience the brilliance of Vance, and the warmth and affability of a master who knew his game so well he didn't have to shout it--he could whisper his boards and you were riveted. Vance we love you and and thank you for giving us all you had all the time without a word of complaint--and with the easiest smile in the business. Cool Hand Vance--you were the best there was.
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Mr. Fun wrote:
The fools who run Disney seldom sought his advice.
"Never sought his advice" would be more accurate. Actually, "never acknowledged his presence" would be most accurate. Vance was a great artist and, more importantly, a great guy--always approachable and easy to talk to.
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Vance was the best. Every hand-watercolored panel he created was a masterpiece of color, composition, expressiveness and clarity. Plus being the nicest, most generous, good-humored genius you could ever hope to meet.

I'm very, very sad.

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I'm messed up now.

Vance was very nice to me when I was at Disney. A snot nosed kid who didn't know anything. He stopped me in the hall one day and complimented me on one of my drawings. That was a special moment. To get props from one of the, I'm gonna miss him.

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From ABC news

Memorial Service To Be Held For Disney Storyman
BURBANK — A memorial service will be held Friday in Pasadena for Vance Gerry, a veteran Disney animation storyman and visual development artist whose credits include "101 Dalmatians," "The Jungle Book" and "Tarzan."

Gerry, who had worked for Disney since 1955, died Saturday at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena of complications from cancer, according to Howard E. Green of Walt Disney Pictures. He was 75.

"Vance had his fingerprints all over such iconic animated films as `The Jungle Book,' `101 Dalmatians' and `Beauty and the Beast,"' said Don Hahn, producer of the latter animated blockbuster and "The Lion King."

"He was a writer's writer and his sense of storytelling and influence on all of us was profound," Hahn said. "He was one of the smartest and most charming storymen the industry has seen. A generation of filmmakers studied under his wing and learned from his spectacular storyboards.

"It wasn't that he drew better than others, or wrote better than others, or communicated emotion and character better than others," Hahn said. "It was that he did all these things and did them well for decades that makes Vance's legacy stand apart."

Up until his death, he continued to work closely with 96-year-old Joe Grant, who co-wrote "Dumbo" and designed the Queen/Witch character for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," and Burny Mattinson, a 50-year veteran himself whose credits include animating, directing and storyman.

The trio, who worked together adapting books and developing original story ideas, comically referred to their group as the "Geriatricals." "Vance was one of the finest graphic artists of our times, and he also was a great storyteller," Grant said. "In addition to his interests and talents in the field of animation, he was a master of topography and design.

"I loved working with him," he said. "He made an enormous impact in the art world of animation and he made coming to work a lot of fun."

Born in Pasadena in 1929, Gerry studied at the Chouinard Art Institute before joining Disney as an assistant in-betweener. Moving on to layout artist, he contributed to such Disney television shows as "The Goofy Success Story," "Goofy's Cavalcade of Sports" and "How to Relax," and such featurettes as "The Truth About Mother Goose" and "Donald in Mathmagic Land."

As a layout artist, he also worked on the features "101 Dalmatians" and "The Sword in the Stone."

Gerry exhibited his talents for story beginning with the 1967 Disney classic, "The Jungle Book," and went on to be a major contributor to such other Disney favorites as "The Aristocats," "Robin Hood," "The Rescuers," "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," "The Fox and the Hound," "The Black Cauldron," "Oliver & Company" and "Hercules."

He received a story adaptation credit for the 1986 Disney feature, "The Great Mouse Detective." For "Fantasia/2000," he worked on the conceptual storyboards for the "Carnival of the Animals" sequence.

From 1995 on, Gerry turned his attention to visual development and character design. In those capacities, he contributed to such later features as "Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Tarzan" and "Home on the Range."

Discussing his work with animation historian John Canemaker for the book, "Before the Animation Begins: The Art and Lives of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists," Gerry expressed a relaxed confidence about the creative process.

"It doesn't take much to get started," he said. "I'd just as soon start with a title of a picture and just start dreaming into it. A script is restricting because it tells you too much. I'd rather start earlier than that and look for possibilities for animation and entertainment, rather than story elements or structure.
"A lot of things come quick at first," he said. "But once you get really tired of a project and can't stand it anymore, that's the time you're really going to get going on it. All the things that the guys work on so hard for a long time usually come off better."

In addition to his activities at Walt Disney Feature Animation, Gerry operated his own letter press, The Weatherbird Press, which published many fine print graphic books.

He is survived by Mary, his wife of 48 years, and a niece, Elizabeth Soder of Red Bluff.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the International Museum of Graphic Communication, 8469 Kass Drive, Buena Park, CA 90621.

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Just to reiterate....a great guy! It pains me that it seems that (relatively) so few people in this industry knew of him.
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Mr. Fun
IE # 63
Member # 352

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I attended the Vance Gerry memorial yesterday in Pasadena. Many of Mr. Gerry's friends and colleagues attended. Many people there from Disney, and some even traveled down from the Bay Area.

It was great to see so many old friends and colleagues again. Reminded me of happier times at Disney.

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