Wolfgang Reitherman (Wolfgang Reitherman)

Wolfgang Reitherman

Wolfgang Reitherman began working for Disney in 1934, along with future Disney legends Ward Kimball and Milt Kahl. The three worked together on a number of classic Disney shorts, including The Band Concert, Music Land, and Elmer Elephant and in all, Reitherman worked on various Disney feature films produced from 1937 to 1981, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Slave in the Magic Mirror) to The Fox and the Hound (co-producer). He did the climactic dinosaur fight in Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in Fantasia, the Headless Horseman chase in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” section in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, the Crocodile in Peter Pan, and Maleficent as a dragon in Sleeping Beauty (the former three he animated and the latter he directed). Beginning with 1961’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians, “Woolie”, as he was called by friends, served as Disney’s chief animation director. One of Reitherman’s productions, the 1968 short Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. He also served as a producer and sequence director, and starred as himself in the 1941 feature film The Reluctant Dragon. All three of Reitherman’s sons — Bruce, Richard and Robert — provided voices for Disney characters, including Mowgli in The Jungle Book, Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, and Wart in The Sword in the Stone.

Wolfgang Reitherman directed several Disney animated feature films including: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), The Sword in the Stone (1963), The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), Robin Hood (1973), The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1977), and The Rescuers (1977). During his tenure, he frequently used “recycled” or limited animation from prior works, presumably because it was a safer method for a quality product, though it was in fact more labor intensive, not because it was supposedly cheaper. Note this is similar to, but not the same as, rotoscoping. Born in Munich, Germany, Reitherman’s family moved to America when he was a child. After attending Pasadena Junior College and briefly working as a draftsman for Douglas Aircraft, Reitherman returned to school at the Chouinard Art Institute, graduating in 1933. Reitherman served in World War II for the United States Air Force, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross after serving in Africa, China, India and the South Pacific. Reitherman died in a single-car accident near his Burbank, California home in 1985, aged 75. Reitherman was posthumously named a Disney Legend in 1989.

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  • June, 26, 1909
  • Munich, Germany


  • May, 22, 1985
  • USA
  • Burbank, California

Cause of Death

  • car accident

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