In Remembrance: Vance Gerry

     Vance Gerry, who served as a layout artist and writer for numerous Disney animated features, has passed away on March 5, 2005 in Pasadena, California. He was 75.

     Born on August 21, 1929, Gerry studied art at the Chouinard Art Institute before being hired at Walt Disney Studios in 1955 as an assistant in-betweener. He was soon promoted to layout artist, contributing to the theatrical shorts The Truth About Mother Goose and Donald In Mathmagicland and the features 101 Dalmations (1961) and The Sword In The Stone (1963).

     Gerry moved on to story development for 1967’s The Jungle Book, the last feature that Walt Disney actively oversaw before his death. He followed with assignments on Winnie The Pooh And The Blustery Day (1968), The Aristocats (1970), The Rescuers (1977), The Fox And The Hound (1981), The Black Cauldron (1985), The Great Mouse Detective (1986) and Oliver & Company (1988), where he excelled at not only developing solidly structured stories, but in crafting the visual design of key sequences with these films.

     In the 1990s Gerry moved back to visual development and character design for the features Pocahontas (1995), Hercules (1997), The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996), Tarzan (1999) and Home On The Range (2004). For 2000’s Fantasia 2000, Gerry worked on the conceptual storyboards for the “Carnival of the Animals” sequence.

     In animation historian John Cenemaker’s book Before The Animation Begins: The Art And Lives Of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists, Gerry discussed his own work process: “It doesn’t take much to get started. I’d just as soon start with a title of a picture and just start dreaming into it. A script is restricting because it tells you too much. I’d rather start earlier than that and look for possibilities for animation and entertainment, rather than story element or structure.”