Yale Gracey
BornSeptember 3, 1910
DiedSeptember 5, 1983(1983-09-05) (aged 73)
Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California, United States
Cause of deathMurder
EducationArt Institute of Chicago, Art Center School of Design, The Chouinard Art Institute
Years active1939–1975
EmployerWalt Disney Animation Studios (1942–1956)
SpouseBeverly Gracey

Yale Wilbur Gracey (September 3, 1910 – September 5, 1983) was a Disney Imagineer, writer, and layout artist for many Disney animated shorts, including classics such as The Three Caballeros and Fantasia. Gracey joined the company in 1939 as a layout artist for Pinocchio. In the 1960s, he designed many of the special effects for the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion attractions at Disneyland. Among these was a fire effect, developed for Pirates of the Caribbean,[1] which appeared so realistic that the Disneyland fire department wanted an emergency switch to turn it off in case of a real fire.[2] The Haunted Mansion character Master Gracey was named in homage to him. Gracey retired from the company on October 4, 1975.[3]


Gracey was the grandson of Charles G. Yale, businessman and club man, Secretary of the San Francisco Yacht Club and 1st President of the Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association.[4][5] His great-grandfather was Colonel Gregory Yale (1817-1871), a mining claims and maritime lawyer, who arrived in San Francisco in 1849, and was involved in Senator Broderick's case, as well as with Salvador Vallejo, brother of Gen. Vallejo.[6]

He was in partnership under Yale & McConnell, with Attorney General of California John R. McConnell, and sat on committees with Congressman Thompson Campbell, Senator John S. Hager, Congressman Joseph P. Hoge, and at events with Gov. John B. Weller.[7][8][9] He defended the Vice President of the Republic of Lower California, Col. Watkins, with Gov. Henry S. Foote, and Yale was involved himself in a duel against Bailie Peyton.[10][11][12]

His fortune amounted to $300,000 in 1857.[13][14] He was also a real estate investor and an associate of Frank Turk, a pioneer of the city of San Francisco.[15] His great-uncle, Frank Willey Yale (1854), was married to Fannie Amelia Bleecker, granddaughter of Major general Leonard Bleecker, a member of the Bleecker family of Bleecker Street, New York, and cofounder of the New York Stock Exchange through the Buttonwood Agreement.[16][17]

Personal life

Gracey's parents were Enid Yale (1884-1968) and Wilbur Tirrell Gracey (1877-1946).[18] His father was a US Marshal and diplomat who served in consulates in China, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom. His grandfather, Rev Samuel Levis Gracey (1835-1911) was a Methodist clergyman who had served in the Civil War as the chaplain for 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment ("Rush's Lancers"), 1st Division Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, and 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment.[19]

In 1947, Gracey married Beverly Joyce Newman of Beverly Hills, California. They had two sons, Wayne and Lucky Gracey, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.[20]


On September 5, 1983, Gracey was shot and killed in Los Angeles by a burglar. His wife was also injured in the attack. Gracey and his wife, Beverly, were staying overnight at their cabana at the Bel Air Bay Club, on Pacific Coast Highway in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of western Los Angeles. The shooting was reported at approximately 2:30 a.m. by another club member. A police spokesman indicated that Gracey and his wife were both asleep when an unknown intruder entered and shot them both, then fled onto the beach. A motive was not determined, and there were no suspects. As of 2023, the Gracey murder remains a cold case.[21][22]

Gracey's widow, Beverly Gracey, died on November 1, 2017, at the age of 95.[20]

Disney filmography

Year Film Position
1940 Pinocchio layout artist
1940 Fantasia segment "The Pastoral Symphony"
1941 The Reluctant Dragon art direction: cartoon sequences
1942 Saludos Amigos backgrounds/layout artist - uncredited
1943 Figaro and Cleo layout artist - uncredited
1944 ''Donald's Off Day'' layout artist
1944 The Three Caballeros layout artist
1945 The Eyes Have It layout artist
1945 No Sail layout artist
1946 A Knight for a Day layout artist
1946 Lighthouse Keeping layout artist
1946 The Story of Menstruation layout artist
1946 Frank Duck Brings 'em Back Alive layout artist - uncredited
1946 Double Dribble layout artist
1947 Straight Shooters layout artist
1947 Clown of the Jungle layout artist
1947 Bootle Beetle layout artist
1947 Foul Hunting layout artist
1947 ''Chip an' Dale'' layout artist
1948 They're Off layout artist
1948 Inferior Decorator layout artist
1948 ''Soup's On'' layout artist
1948 Three for Breakfast layout artist
1948 Tea for Two Hundred layout artist
1949 ''Donald's Happy Birthday'' layout artist
1949 Sea Salts layout artist
1949 Winter Storage layout artist
1949 Honey Harvester layout artist
1949 All in a Nutshell layout artist
1949 The Greener Yard layout artist
1949 Slide, Donald, Slide layout artist
1949 Toy Tinkers layout artist
1950 Lion Around layout artist
1950 Crazy Over Daisy layout artist
1950 Trailer Horn layout artist
1950 Hook, Lion and Sinker layout artist
1950 Bee at the Beach layout artist
1950 Out on a Limb layout artist
1951 Chicken in the Rough layout artist
1951 Dude Duck layout artist
1951 Corn Chips layout artist
1951 Test Pilot Donald layout artist
1951 Lucky Number layout artist
1951 Out of Scale layout artist
1951 Bee on Guard layout artist
1952 Donald Applecore layout artist
1952 Lambert the Sheepish Lion layout artist
1952 Two Chips and a Miss layout artist
1952 Let's Stick Together layout artist
1952 ''Uncle Donald's Ants'' layout artist
1952 Trick or Treat background artist, layout artist
1952 ''Pluto's Christmas Tree'' layout artist
1953 ''Don's Fountain of Youth'' layout artist
1953 The New Neighbor layout artist
1953 Rugged Bear layout artist
1953 Working for Peanuts layout artist
1953 Canvas Back Duck layout artist
1954-1968 The Magical World of Disney layout artist, stylist ("The Plausible Impossible")
1954 Spare the Rod layout artist
1954 Dragon Around layout artist
1954 Grin and Bear It layout artist
1954 The Flying Squirrel layout artist
1955 No Hunting layout artist
1955 Bearly Asleep layout artist
1955 Beezy Bear layout artist
1955 Up a Tree layout artist
1956 Hooked Bear layout artist
1956 In the Bag layout artist


  1. ^ "The Wizard of WED: Yale Gracey".
  2. ^ Bright, Randy (1987). Disneyland : inside story. New York: H.N. Abrams. p. 193. ISBN 0-8109-0811-5.
  3. ^ "Yale Gracey - Animation, Disney Legends, Imagineering". D23.com. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  5. ^ "Yale genealogy and history of Wales : the British kings and princes, life of Owen Glyndwr, biographies of Governor Elihu Yale, for whom Yale University was named, Linus Yale, Sr". Archived.org. pp. 587–588. Retrieved 2023-03-03.
  6. ^ Richmond Enquirer, 31 Aug 1849, Fri ·Page 4
  7. ^ The Charleston Daily Courier, 15 Aug 1853, Mon ·Page 2
  8. ^ The Valley Virginian, 09 Jan 1867, Wed ·Page 4
  9. ^ The San Francisco Examiner, 14 Aug 1865, Mon ·Page 1
  10. ^ Evening star, 27 Apr 1854, Thu ·Page 2
  11. ^ The Daily California Express, 19 Jun 1858, Sat ·Page 2
  12. ^ The Nevada Democrat, 23 Jun 1858, Wed ·Page 2
  13. ^ "Yale genealogy and history of Wales : the British kings and princes, life of Owen Glyndwr, biographies of Governor Elihu Yale, for whom Yale University was named, Linus Yale, Sr". Archived.org. pp. 587–588. Retrieved 2023-03-03.
  14. ^ Legal papers of Gregory Yale, consisting of briefs, complaints, writs, court records, letters, memoranda, etc
  15. ^ Text / Gregory Yale, 1852-1872
  16. ^ The San Francisco Examiner, 03 Aug 1920, Tue ·Page 4
  17. ^ "Yale genealogy and history of Wales : the British kings and princes, life of Owen Glyndwr, biographies of Governor Elihu Yale, for whom Yale University was named, Linus Yale, Sr". Archived.org. pp. 587–588. Retrieved 2023-03-03.
  18. ^ Political Graveyard Registry
  19. ^ Gracey, Samuel Levis (1868). Annals of Sixth Pennsylvania cavalry. [Philadelphia]: E.H. Butler & Co. p. 22. OCLC 85888211.
  20. ^ a b Beverly Gracey obituary, Legacy.com, 20 December 2017.
  21. ^ UPI, 1983, Sept. 6, Executive Shot to Death at Exclusive Beach Club, The Montreal Gazette, p. 105
  22. ^ Ex-Disney Special Effects Expert Slain, Toledo Blade, 7 September 1983, page 14. Last retrieved 21 April 2023.