John Frederick (Jack) Hannah was born in Nogales, Arizona, on January Sth, 1913. After attending grammar school and high school in San Ysidro and National City, California, he moved to Los Angeles to take an art course at the Art Guild Academy in 1931. His first jobs were as a poster designer for Foster and Kleiser and for Hollywood theaters. He joined the Walt Disney Studios in January of 1933 and spent twenty-five years there as an animator, storyman (teamed with Carl Barks), and director. He worked on over a hundred cartoons featuring Donald Duck, Chip n Dale, and Humphrey the Bear. During Hannah's years at Disney, his work received eight Academy Award nominations. He also directed fourteen hourlong television shows. He left the studio in 1959 and for the next three years spent time as a_ supervising director at Walter Lantz Productions.
Korkis: Why did you leave Disney in the late 1950s?
Hannah: The emphasis at the studio was being taken off the shorts and animation in general. The shorts were becoming way too expensive to produce. At the time, a lot of the cartoon studios were finding it too expensive a process, and had to stop cartoon production. Fortunately, I was lucky being a Donald Duck man, because the character was used quite extensively during the first couple of years of the Disneyland TV show. So I moved over to directing many of those shows, and I was responsible for directing all of those segments where Walt talked with the Duck.
I had really gotten the "live action bug," and wanted to be a live-action director. I suggested this to Walt several times. In fact, we had a few heated discussions on this subject, but I began to realize that I had reached an impasse at Disney's.