Artist, Disney ‘Imagineer’ T. Hee, Age 77
T. (for Thornton) Hee, who used that singular initial throughout a multifaceted career that saw him as graphic artist, caricaturist, writer and director for some of the animation world’s most acclaimed film productions, died Sunday in Montana. He was 77, said a spokesman for the Walt Disney studios, where Hee had worked for many years.
The designer and choreographer of “The Dance of the Hours” sequence from “Fantasia” and writer and director of the segment of “Pinocchio” that involved the fox Honest John Foulfellow and the cat Gideon began his career at the old Hal Roach studios after moving to Los Angeles from his native Oklahoma.
At Roach, he created caricatures of entertainment stars for the publicity department and was later called upon by Disney to re-create some of them for the cartoon classic “Mother Goose Goes Hollywood.”
Hee stayed with Disney until 1946 and then went to work for United Productions of America, where he wrote and designed some of the Gerald McBoing Boing and Christopher Crumpet shorts.
He returned to Disney in 1958 for the studio’s first stop-motion animated film, “Noah’s Ark,” and later functioned as an art director (or as Walt Disney called them, “imagineers”) at Disneyland and Disney World.
Hee also taught two generations of students at Chouinard Art Institute and California Institute of the Arts. His book, “The Art of Caricature--The T. Hee Way” is to be published soon.
Survivors include a son, daughter and five grandchildren.