The history of Disney shorts projects from the ’50s and of Disney animation from the ’60s to the early ’80s has still to be studied in detail. The career of Joe Hale—a tremendously talented layout and story artist, who also happened to be The Black Cauldron’s producer—allows us to venture into those hidden fields and to live the traumatic transition of the Eisner / Katzenberg era through his eyes.

Born in 1925 he was hired by the Studio in 1951 to work on Peter Pan and soon became Ollie Johnston’s assistant. He witnessed Walt’s first attempts at defining Disneyland, worked on Ward Kimball’s projects from the ’50s, on Walt’s TV lead-ins, on educational shorts, and on several of the movies that combined live action and animation.

Among the weirdest projects he tackled was the short-lived TV show “The Mouse Factory” directed by Ward Kimball, and the abandoned projects Mistress Masham’s Repose and Dufus, a story inspired by Catcher in the Rye. […]

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