|Died||February 21, 1977 (aged 62)|
|Education||ArtCenter College of Design|
|Employer||Walt Disney Animation Studios (1935-1941)|
Screen Gems (1941-1946)
Storyboard/Hubley Studios (1955-1977)
(m. 1941; div. 1954)
John Hubley (May 21, 1914 – February 21, 1977) was an American animation director, art director, producer and writer of traditional animation films known for both his formal experimentation and for his emotional realism which stemmed from his tendency to cast his own children as voice actors in his films.
Hubley was born in Marinette, Wisconsin to John Raymond Hubley (1880–1959) and Verena K. Hubley (1891–1978), a painter. He moved to Los Angeles, California, to study painting at the Art Center School for three years. In 1935, he gained a job as a background and layout artist at Disney, where he worked on such classic films as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi, as well as "The Rite of Spring" segment from Fantasia.
On February 25, 1939, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright visited the studio with a copy of the Russian animated movie The Tale of the Czar Durandai (1934), directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano, which he showed to the artists, among them Hubley. Wright thought that the different style and design, that was very different from the typical Disney animation, would inspire and give the animators new ideas. Hubley liked what he saw and was influenced by it. He left the company during Disney animators' strike in 1941, and found work directing films for Screen Gems and the Army's First Motion Picture Unit until he joined United Productions of America which was founded by Stephen Bosustow, Zack Schwartz, Dave Hilberman. UPA soon became known for their highly stylized designs and limited animation.
In 1949 he was the creator of the Mr. Magoo cartoon character, based on an uncle, and directed the first Magoo cartoon with Jim Backus voicing Magoo.
Hubley's final project at UPA was to direct the animation of The Four Poster, which became influential in Yugoslavia and was a major stylistic contributor to the Zagreb School of Animated Films. Hubley was forced to leave UPA in 1952 when he refused to name names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He founded Storyboard Studios the next year and worked on commercials (where he would not be credited) such as creating the Marky Maypo character, but was forced to turn down more exciting projects (such as an adaptation of Finian's Rainbow) because his name was still blacklisted. He moved his studio to New York in 1955, where he switched production over to independent short films.
Hubley married Faith Elliott (September 16, 1924 – December 7, 2001) the same year as the studio's move. They began collaborating on films in 1956 with Adventures of an *, commissioned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. It premiered in April 1957 and was described by Variety as "the first moving picture ever directly originated and financed by an art museum". Faith later said that it portrays "a child's vision, the slow erosion of the vision, and how it can only be regained through the eyes of one's child."
In 1962, the Hubleys completed The Hole, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film that year.
John and Faith continued to collaborate on all of their films through 1977, when John died at age 62 during heart surgery. Their final production was A Doonesbury Special (with creator Garry Trudeau), which was a co-winner of the Short Film Palme d'Or jury award the year after his death. Hubley was originally the director of Watership Down, until disagreements with producer Martin Rosen caused the latter to take over. Some of his work, including the opening sequence, remain in the final version. He died shortly after.
The voices of his two other children with Faith Hubley, Mark and Ray Hubley, were used for the Oscar-winning Moonbird. His widow and their four children carried on his work in the renamed Hubley Studios. His daughter Georgia Hubley plays drums and sings for the rock band Yo La Tengo and his daughter Emily Hubley is a filmmaker and animator.
The Academy Film Archive has preserved a number of John Hubley's films, including A Smattering of Spots, A Doonesbury Special, and Of Men and Demons.
The Hole was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2013.
shorts and features