Les Clark
Leslie James Clark

(1907-11-17)November 17, 1907
DiedSeptember 12, 1979(1979-09-12) (aged 71)
Known forOne of Disney's Nine Old Men
Spouse(s)Miriam Lauritzen (m. ?; div. 1952)
Georgia Vester
(m. 1967)

Leslie James "Les" Clark (November 17, 1907 - September 12, 1979) was an American animator and the first of Disney's Nine Old Men. Joining Disney in 1927, he was the only one to work on the origins of Mickey Mouse with Ub Iwerks.

Early life

Les Clark was born in Ogden, Utah in 1907, the eldest of 12 children to James Clark, a carpenter,[1] and Lute Wadsworth.[2] By 1910, the family lived in Salt Lake City[1] and by 1920, they lived in Twin Falls, Idaho.[3] By 1930, they lived in Los Angeles,[4] where Les attended Venice High School. During high school, he worked a summer job at an ice cream shop near Walt Disney Studios in Hollywood. Walt and Roy Disney were frequent patrons at the shop, and Walt had once complimented Les on his lettering job of the menus. Eventually, Les got the courage to ask Walt for a job. He recalled Walt's reply:

...[Walt said] 'Bring some of your drawings in and let's see what they look like.' So, I copied some cartoons and showed them to Walt. He said I had a good line, and why don't I come to work on Monday.[5]

Les reported to the studio the Monday after he graduated high school for a temporary position in 1927.[6][5]

He and his wife Miriam had a son, Richard,[7] and a daughter, Miriam.

Career at Disney Studio

Les started work at the studio first as a camera operator and doing ink and paint on the animations. He moved on to work under the guidance of Ub Iwerks, working on shorts in the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit series. During the development of the character Mickey Mouse, Clark was promoted to the position of inbetweener where he worked on a scene for the upcoming Steamboat Willie. Les was then promoted to animator and was tasked to work on the Silly Symphony The Skeleton Dance. After Ub Iwerks left Disney, Clark was given the position as lead animator on Mickey Mouse. He continued honing his craft, attending art classes while working at the studio. As he improved, he was given the task of animating the Seven Dwarfs in the upcoming film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In particular, Clark worked on the scene where Snow White dances with each of the Seven Dwarfs. He would go on to animate the iconic Disney characters Pinocchio, Cinderella, Alice and Tinker Bell.[6]

Animation style

Clark was known for his skill in timing his animation to musical scores, as well as his ability to convey emotion in his work.[6]


Les Clark died of cancer in Santa Barbara, California on September 12, 1979.


Year Title Credits Characters Notes
1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Animator
1940 Pinocchio Animator
Fantasia Animator - Segments "The Nutcracker Suite" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"
1941 Dumbo Animator
1943 Saludos Amigos (Short) Animator
1945 The Three Caballeros Animator
1946 Make Mine Music Animator
Song of the South Directing Animator
1947 Fun and Fancy Free Directing Animator
1948 You Were Meant for Me Choreographer
Melody Time Directing Animator
1949 So Dear to My Heart Animator
1950 Cinderella Directing Animator
1951 Plutopia (Short) Animator
Alice in Wonderland Directing Animator
1952 The Little House (Short) Animator
1953 Peter Pan Directing Animator
Ben and Me (Short) Animator
1954 The Magical World of Disney (TV Series) Special Effects - 1 Episode
1955 Lady and the Tramp Directing Animator
You the Human Animal (Short) Director
Contrast in Rhythm (Short) Animator
1956 - 1958 The Magical World of Disney (TV Series) Animator - 3 Episodes
1958 Paul Bunyan[8] (Short) Director
1959 Sleeping Beauty Sequence Director
Donald in Mathmagic Land (Short) Sequence Director
1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians Character Animator
Donald and the Wheel (Short) Animator
1961 - 1970 The Magical World of Disney (TV Series) Director - 3 Episodes
1962 A Symposium on Popular Songs (Short) Animator
1963 The Magical World of Disney (TV Series) Sequence Director - 1 Episode
1964 The Restless Sea (TV Movie Documentary) Director
1965 Freewayphobia #1 (Short) Director
Steel and America (Short) Director
Donald's Fire Survival Plan (Short) Director
Goofy's Freeway Troubles (Short) Director
1967 Family Planning (Short) Director
1968 The Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show Animator
1969 Physical Fitness and Good Health (Short) Director
The Social Side of Health (Short) Director
The Project (Short) Director
The Game (Short) Director
The Fight (Short) Director
Steps Towards Maturity and Health (Short) Director
1970 New Girl (Short) Director
Lunch Money (Short) Director
1972 The Great Search: Man's Need for Power and Energy (Documentary short) Director
1973 VD Attack Plan (Short) Director
I'm No Fool with Electricity (Short) Director
1974 Man, Monsters and Mysteries (Short) Director
1980 Mickey Mouse Disco (Short) Animator
1984 DTV: Rock, Rhythm & Blues (Video) Animator
DTV: Pop & Rock (Video) Animator
DTV: Golden Oldies (Short) Animator
2000 Fantasia 2000 Animator - Segment "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"


  1. ^ a b 1910 United States Federal Census
  2. ^ Utah, Birth Certificates, 1903-1911
  3. ^ 1920 United States Federal Census
  4. ^ 1930 United States Federal Census
  5. ^ a b "Les Clark". D23. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Les Clark | the Walt Disney Family Museum". Archived from the original on 2017-05-22. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
  7. ^ 1940 United States Federal Census
  8. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (2012-12-31). "Animator Lee Hartman Dies at 82". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2013-01-06.