Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ken O'Brien pictured second from the left in this group photo from 1965 showing Disney's top artists at WED (Imagineering). The more I find out about O'Brien's work the more I tip my hat to this artist. He worked on many Disney classics starting with Pinocchio all the way to Sleeping Beauty.
Great animator with draughtsmanship that is rooted in the rhythmic and charming drawings of Fred Moore.
Here are a couple of photo stats of Jim Dear from the production of Lady & Tramp, followed by Ken O'Brien's interpretations of the poses pictured.

O'Brien died in 1990 at age 74, I wished I had made the effort to meet him way back. 
If anybody knew him, feel to tell us about him and leave a comment.

A previous post featuring a couple of his drawings of Tiger Lily:

And this post includes a great group sketch from Lady & Tramp:


  1. He did a handful of scenes for the Mermaids from Peter Pan even though Fred Moore had the lion's share and did a bit of Wendy as well.

  2. man, I love animation drawings that use soft lines. These are great, I didn't know anything about this guy before, thanks

  3. Lovely post, as always!

    Andreas, could you post some day about your experience working in Rhapsody in blue (It's my favourite segment of the movie)? I can't even imagine how you guys approach to the job of creating that beautiful short based on Hirschfeld style.
    Thank you and congrats for your blog.

  4. If memory serves, he also did some really appealing shots of the mermaids in Peter Pan. Like that shot where the mermaid says, "We were only trying to drown her."

  5. Hi Andreas, I did meet Ken O'Brien back in 1987, he was a most amiable man, if there is anything you'd like to know about him in particular, I'll try to answer!
    Christian Renaut

  6. That last drawing of Jim Dear going down the stairs is absolutely stunning. Wowzers!

  7. That last drawing of Jim Dear going down the stairs is absolutely stunning. Wowzers!

  8. Ken, a wonderful guy, was also what Ward Kimball called "Fred Moore's number one fan". When Fred left Disney for two years, Ken quit to go with him! He absolutely adored him, and was incredibly generous in sharing his memories of Fred with me, way back in 1981. One day, going to lunch at WED(where he was animating for the japanese pavilion at EPCOT), he said "Let's get Herbie to join us"-Herb Ryman! I sat between these men in total awe, but they treated me like an old comrade. A wonderful artist and gentleman.

  9. I would love to hear more. My grandfather was Ken O’Brien. He unfortunately died the year I was born but I love hearing the stories from my dad and Uncles!