Milt Kahl: The Animation Michelangelo

As part of the Marc Davis Celebration of Animation, the Academy presents a centennial celebration of “Milt Kahl: The Animation Michelangelo”

Hosted by Andreas Deja. Panel moderated by animation critic Charles Solomon. Featuring Kathryn Beaumont, Brad Bird, Ron Clements, John Musker, Floyd Norman.

Renowned for his unparalleled draftsmanship as well as his exacting nature, Milt Kahl (1909–1987), one of the “nine old men” Walt Disney relied upon to bring his creative vision to the screen, was the animator to whom the other eight turned when they had trouble with a character or scene.

Two of Kahl’s renowned colleagues, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, write in Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, “Unlike many irascible temperaments who have filled the halls of history, Milt had a very sweet helpful side, when he chose.  He gave unstintingly of his time and talent when it was to help the picture and almost as often to help a fellow artist who had a problem.  However, he expected everyone coming for help to have worked hard and tried everything – to have done his best before coming.”

Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, when Kahl was responsible for the final design of many characters, he complained of being “saddled” with the animation of challenging, non-comic human characters such as Alice, Peter Pan, Wendy, and Sleeping Beauty’s Prince.  But Kahl secretly relished the fact that it was his talent and drive that made these characters come alive.

This celebration of Milt Kahl featured an insightful analysis of his animation drawings, rare film interviews with Kahl himself, and clips of his work from such Disney favorites as “Mickey’s Circus,” “Pinocchio,” “Bambi,” “Peter Pan,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Jungle Book” and “The Rescuers.”  The clips were interspersed with commentary from those who worked beside him and were inspired by him, revealing the rigorous process and fiery personality of a true animation legend.


ANDREAS DEJA, one of the top animators of his generation, brought to life characters as diverse as Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast,” Scar in “The Lion King,” and Lilo in “Lilo & Stitch.”

KATHRYN BEAUMONT was the voice artist for Alice in “Alice in Wonderland” and Wendy in “Peter Pan.”

BRAD BIRD has won the Animated Feature Film Oscar® twice, for his work on “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille.”

RON CLEMENTS and JOHN MUSKER served as co-directors and writers on “The Great Mouse Detective,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Hercules” and “Treasure Planet.”

FLOYD NORMAN preceded his lengthy television animation career with experience as an apprentice/assistant to Milt Kahl on “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Sword in the Stone” and “The Jungle Book.”

Milt Kahl

Event Information

Monday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
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