The career of artist Jim Tadevic, one of the voices of Donald Duck and one of the production managers on Disney’s live-action features, deserves to be much better known. This is why I was so glad to be granted this in-depth interview. It was transcribed by Jennifer Hendrickson.

Didier Ghez: Can you give me a little bit of background on when and where you were born, and what you did before you joined Disney?

Jim Tadevic: My life is a big book. So I’m going to try to abbreviate it. I was born in Hollywood, California, in 1944, June 14th, Flag Day. I told every- body that they put the flags out on my birthday when I was in elementary school. And then when I was a freshman in high school, my father moved to Oregon, to a better job. I went to school in Oregon, until I graduated. Then I returned to Los Angeles, which was my home, because I was not a skier. I was a surfer boy, and born and raised here—Southern California. I did numerous jobs. Unfortunately I got a girl pregnant my senior year. Did the right thing and married her. I had a child right off the bat. So to survive, I drove trucks, I worked in restaurants, bulk oil plant, worked for a furniture company. I did everything I possibly could while trying to attend Central Oregon College, and realized there was no future for me in Bend, Oregon. So I returned to Los Angeles, looking for a job. I had a grandfather here that I stayed with for about two days, and then started looking for work.

I met a great-aunt from my grandfather’s side, who ran the balloon concessions at Disneyland, who offered me a job. I’d already been driving 18-wheelers at 17 years old. I told her I was not about to stand in front of “Fantasy Castle,” selling balloons, dressed like Peter Pan. So she said she had a contact at the Disney Studios in Burbank. That allowed me to get through the front gate and see Ken Sieling and Dick Butler, who were the head[s] of personnel. After interviewing me—I only had two years of liberal arts, I actually wanted to be a football coach—they told me I must return either to ’SC [USC] or UCLA film school before they would consider hiring me. […]

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