Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dick Jones

Who is Dick Jones? He is none other than the voice of Pinocchio.

I had a fun dinner the other week with some friends including Dick Jones and his lovely wife Betty.
And wouldn't you know, I just happened to have some model sheets with me.
Dick was already a child actor before he voiced that iconic character for Disney. 
He was in recording sessions doing Pinocchio off and on for about a year and a half, from age 10 until 11 1/2.
I asked him what it was like to see the whole film way back for the first time, all finished.
His answer surprised me. Dick didn't attend the premier screening, but he felt like he had seen the  entire film, in pieces while he was working on it. It wasn't until a few years ago that he watched the complete movie, when it came out on Blu- Ray and the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood had a screening of the restored  film. He thinks this is the best animated movie Walt ever made, and many people would agree with him. (It's just fun to see how Dick says this, with an honest sense of pride.)

His long acting career included many roles in Westerns, on the big screen as well as on TV. 
That's him in the photo below recording Pinocchio next to Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket.
What a great performance, so fitting for the character. Full of enthusiasm, innocent, naive and very charming.
The animation roughs are by Milt Kahl from the naughty cigar smoking sequence.
After having re designed Pinocchio early on (I'll get to that in a future post) this became a sort of break through assignment for Milt, from then on he was one of the supervising animators.


  1. Milt Kahl's drawings are always so full of life. In my opinion, Pinoccio's design was not only a Milt Kahl breakthrough, but also a great step forward in Disney's character design. Thank you so much for all your posts. Each one of them are so full of inspiration for a Mexican animation student.

  2. Pinoccio always stood out as a character, especially his voice :D

  3. It's amazing how Milt did all this distortions in the second drawing and keep the character looking the same.

  4. It was such a pure and enthusiastic vocal performance. So sincere and believable. Any animator would love to have something like that to work from. One of the problems of Pinocchio being so "alive" as a puppet, is that when he finally transforms into a real boy, there really is no addition of "life" so to speak. That is a testament to how well he was animated as a puppet. My favorite Picture.

  5. Excuse me, Mr. Deja,

    I wish you could do me a post on Warner Bros. animator Bob McKimson.
    Well, Bob McKimson, as you may know,
    is a very gifted draftsman who animated from the Boskos
    for Harmon and Ising to the Bugs Bunnys for Tex Avery and Bob Clampett

    The one thing about McKimson, even though he's outside of Disney's, is that he could make a drawing precisely
    without any rough guidelines. How he got that ability is that he spent 10 years trying to get a Master's degree in his art education and he got strong visualization skills after that car accendent
    during his first years working in the animation buisness. That's what makes him, in my opinion,
    the most fast and efficient animator

  6. One of my favorite scenes! (too many good ones to ever actually settle on a favorite) Did Milt animate Pinnochio in the donkey transformation too?

    1. Yes, he did. I will have a pencil test post on one of those scenes later.

    2. Looking forward to it - would love to see pencil tests from any of those scenes! Kills me to even look at the drawings of Pinnochio first noticing his ears (or how he turns and perfectly stages his tail popping out. just too good!)

  7. That's really cool, I love those Pinocchio roughs!

  8. In my humble opinion, Pinocchio is Disney's masterpiece. An absolute masterpiece.

  9. Milt Kahl always will be one of my favorite animators and Pinocchio one of my favorite characters. I love this sequence and the one where Pinocchio and Lampwick transforms into donkeys. The the expression of Pinochio in the latter is amazing and the sense of humanity indescribable. But I have a question... Who animated the Puppets show sequence? It is amazing the personality shown by Pinocchio in this sequence. Thank you for your unbelievable posts and beforhand for your atention.

    1. The puppets were animated brilliantly by Eric Larson, Pinocchio in that sequence is the work of Frank Thomas. Amazing stuff.

    2. Thanks for your answer. As a "Disney freaky" and an animation passioned is too much valuable this kind of posts. I´m as inspired for your work as you are for nine old men´s. I´d like to know if thre is a way to talk about a little more personally about the animation craft in a way I can "steal" a little of the knowledge that those masters shared with you.
      Thank you.

  10. Just amazing. You get to hang out with the coolest people.

  11. Thanks Andreas for the name you gave me for the person it mite have been that I spoke to back in 1988. I have sent an e-mail to the school were he is at. I have not heard back, it was worth a try. Thanks again for the help. I am so envious of you because of all the great people you have gotten to meet over the years. That is a great blessing to have in your like.