John Hench, a Disney animation and Imagineering legend, has passed away at the age of 95. An overview of the work he did for the studio can be found in this Disney PRESS RELEASE. Hench worked on everything from FANTASIA and THE THREE CABALLEROS, to developing the ride "It's A Small World" and supervising the construction of Walt Disney World and Epcot in Florida. Hench kept an office at Disney Imagineering until his passing. Last year, he wrote a book, DESIGNING DISNEY: IMAGINEERING AND THE ART OF THE SHOW in which he spoke about the design and thought process behind the Disney theme parks. To put into perspective just how long Hench worked at Disney, he was the artist who collaborated most closely with Salvador Dali on the initial attempt at producing DESTINO in 1946, and he was also involved in producing the new version of the film which was completed in 2003 and is currently nominated for an Academy Award. DESTINO is also nominated for an ASIFA-Hollywood Annie Award, but more importantly John Hench was to have been the recipient of a Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Annies, which are being held tomorrow evening. Alas, the award will now be a posthumous honor.
A few years ago, Victor Haboush told me the following story about his first assignment as a layout artist at Disney. The anecdote serves as an eloquent tribute to Hench's artistic talent:
"John Hench gave me this layout to do on PETER PAN. The characters were on Skull Rock. I couldn't have done this scene well had I been there three years. It was a tough scene; they were walking out of the cave on these rocks through a waterfall and behind them was Skull Rock. I worked on it three weeks, smudged it, dirty as hell and everything else, and John Hench came and fixed it up in about 15 minutes. And boy, it really gave me humility. All of a sudden I went 'Woah! Wait a minute. There's some pretty damn good artists here.' I was really impressed that John could do what he did, just like that."
Quoted Directly from AnimationBlast.com