David Dodd Hand
January 23, 1900
Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||October 11, 1986 (aged 86)|
|Employer||Walt Disney Animation Studios (1930–1944)|
David Dodd Hand (January 23, 1900 – October 11, 1986) was an American animator and animation filmmaker known for his work at Walt Disney Productions. He worked on numerous Disney shorts during the 1930s and eventually became supervising director on the animated features Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi.
Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Hand began his animation career working on Max Fleischer's Out of the Inkwell cartoons throughout the 1920s. He joined the Disney studio in 1930 during a major drive by Disney to recruit from the best of animating talent.
Hand immediately made his mark as an animator. By 1932 he was regarded as one of the studio's top animators (despite some complaints that his work was "too mechanical") and had become a close friend of Disney himself. Hand's organizational skills made Disney select him to be the studio's third director after Burt Gillett and Wilfred Jackson. He made his directorial debut for the company with the Mickey Mouse short Building a Building and went on to direct both Silly Symphony and Mickey Mouse shorts, including The Flying Mouse, Who Killed Cock Robin?, Three Orphan Kittens, and Thru the Mirror. By the late 1930s Hand's management skills had allowed him to ascend the hierarchy of the Studio to functioning as Disney's right-hand man. But as historian Michael Barrier notes "Hand's position was fundamentally untenable—he was second in command in an organization whose leader, younger than Hand himself, had no intention of ever stepping aside or sharing real power."
After leaving Disney in 1944, Hand went to England, and, with the backing of J. Arthur Rank, established Gaumont British Animation at Moor Hall in 1946 to produce a series called Animaland  and another called Musical Paintbox. After establishing the Moor Hall studio, Hand began directing and producing several theatrical animated advertisements. One of his first works as an advertising director at Gaumont-British is an animated advertisement for Rowntree's in 1946. In Hand's later years in English advertising, Hand is well-known for his animated Ye Olde English Car-Tunes on Esso in 1948. With his Animaland and Musical Paintbox series gaining steam all across England, both of his series were unable to get distribution in the United States (although they did get distribution in Canada), and the studio closed in 1950, dooming plans to produce two animated features adapted from H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon and Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark. Hand moved to Colorado where he worked for the next 18 years at the Alexander Film Company, a maker of commercials and industrial films.
Beginning in late-September 1948, Hand's Animaland and Musical Paintbox series were released to theaters in the United Kingdom. Later in June 1949, both of his series were released to theaters in Canada. Few in number, Hand's shorts were shown in theaters for only a year-and-a-half, ending their run in the United Kingdom in July 1950 and in Canada in October 1950.
Hand's first five Animaland shorts featured the animated lives of animal species, while the remaining four of his shorts featured the leading character Ginger Nutt, a little red squirrel who lives his life with his girl Hazel Nutt and faces trouble with characters Loopy Hare, Corny Crow, and Dusty Mole. Ginger Nutt's first short, It's A Lovely Day, was released to theaters in England on August 11, 1949 (and in Canada a short time later). Hand told The Manchester Guardian that his animation team in Cookham managed experimental work with the object of a British cartoon character capable of challenging American animation audiences. With his contributions to British animation, Hand was honored at Buckingham Palace in 1950.
In the early-1960s, Hand's cartoons began airing on British television for the first time in the United Kingdom. This lasted for decades on British television, continuing into the 2000s. In the Spring of 1998, most Animaland shorts made VHS distribution in the United States.
Hand died from complications after receiving a stroke in San Luis Obispo, California at age 86. Hand's son, David Hale Hand, has formed David Hand Productions which owns the rights to the 19 Gaumont animated shorts -- nine Animaland cartoons and ten Musical Paintbox cartoons -- and hopes to produce new films starring some of the characters in the shorts, e.g. Ginger Nutt. In 1994, Hand was inducted into the Disney Legends program.
David Hand served as producer on all 9 shorts in this series.
David Hand served as producer on all 10 shorts in this series.