Animator Glen Keane, a 38-year veteran of the Walt Disney Animation Studios, who has worked on classics, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, announced Friday that he is leaving the company.
Glen Keane has played a key role in the Disney animation renaissance of the 90s, and his departure came as a shock to many in the animation community. “He’s such a Disney icon and an inspiration to so many people,” one source said.
Confirming his departure, a Disney spokesperson said, “After an incredible 38 year career as an animator, storyteller, and filmmaking pioneer with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Glen Keane has decided that the time has come to take the next step in his personal exploration of the art of animation. As much as we are saddened by his departure, we respect his desires and wish him the very best with all his future endeavors.”
Keane's last project was 2010’s Tangled, on which he is credited as animation supervisor and directing animator for the character of Rapunzel. While he has been developing several ideas, according to one insider, he was not currently attached to any future project at Disney.
Keane brought to life such characters as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast and the title characters in Aladdin, Pocahontas and Tarzan.
His resignation letter said:
March 23, 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Walt Disney Animation Studio,
After long and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to leave Disney Animation.
I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate art form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist it’s siren call to step out and discover them.
Disney has been my artistic home since September 9, 1974. I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me—Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston—as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years.
Over these four decades I have seen so many changes, but the one thing that remains the same is that we all do this because we love it.
I am humbled and deeply honored to have worked side by side so many artists, producers and directors during my career here at Disney, and I am tremendously proud of the films which together we have created.I will deeply miss working with you.
With my most sincere and heartfelt good wishes for your and Disney’s continued artistic growth and success,