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Glen Keane

Glen Keane
Glen Keane at the Dreams Come True exhibition at ACMI on November 19, 2010.
Born (1954-04-13) April 13, 1954
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Occupation Animator
illustrator cartoonist
Years active 1973–present
Spouse(s) Linda Hesselroth (m. 1975)
Children Claire Keane
Max Keane

Glen Keane (born April 13, 1954) is an American animator, author and illustrator. Keane is best known for his character animation at Walt Disney Animation Studios for feature films including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Tangled. Keane received the 1992 Annie Award for character animation, the 2007 Winsor McCay Award for lifetime contribution to the field of animation and in 2013 was named a Disney Legend.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Filmography 3
  • Publications 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Keane was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of cartoonist Bil Keane, creator of the The Family Circus, and Australian-born Thelma "Thel" Carne Keane. He was raised in Paradise Valley, Arizona.[1]

Keane's interest in art developed as a child by observing his father's work as a cartoonist.[2] (Glen's younger self is represented in his father's comic strip as the character of "Billy"). In his early attempts to draw, his dad gave him a copy of Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy, and instructed him to analyze the body forms and the creative approach to life drawing. After graduating from high school at Brophy College Preparatory, Keane applied to the California Institute of the Arts-School of Art, opting out of accepting a football scholarship from another college. His application was accidentally sent to the Program in Experimental Animation (then called Film Graphics), where he was mentored under teacher Jules Engel.[2]


Keane left CalArts in 1974 and joined Disney the same year. His debut work, which was created over a 3-year period, was featured in The Rescuers, for which he was an animator for the characters of Bernard and Penny, alongside the famed Ollie Johnston. In 1975, during the production of his debut film, Keane married Linda Hesselroth, and they are the parents of design artist Claire Keane, and computer graphics artist Max Keane.

After The Rescuers was completed, Keane went on to animate Elliott the Dragon in Pete's Dragon. Keane also animated the climactic bear showdown in The Fox and the Hound. In 1982, after being inspired by the groundbreaking film Tron, Keane collaborated with fellow animator John Lasseter (Toy Story, Toy Story 2) on a 30-second test scene of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, which was optioned for them by Disney executive Tom Wilhite.[3] The test integrated traditional character animation and computer-generated backgrounds (Video on YouTube), and, like Tron, was a cooperation with MAGI. It was also Disney's first experimentation with digital inked and painted characters.[4] But, the project turned out to be too expensive, and the studio was unwilling to invest further in the planned featurette. The test for Where the Wild Things Are was revolutionary for its time, and a predecessor to the famous ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast.

In 1983, Keane left Disney as a contracted employee and worked as a freelance artist.[2] During this time, he worked on the character of Professor Ratigan in Disney's Oliver & Company. Keane rose to lead character animator, becoming one of the group of young animators who were trained by and succeeded "Disney's Nine Old Men". Keane animated some of Disney's most memorable characters in what has been referred to as the "New "Golden Age" of Disney Animation.[5] Keane designed and animated the character of Ariel in the 1989 film The Little Mermaid, then the eagle Marahute in The Rescuers Down Under. Subsequently, Keane worked as the supervising animator on the title characters for three Disney hit features: Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas.

While living with his family in Paris, France for three years, Keane completed work on Disney's 1999 Tarzan for which he drew the eponymous character. Keane then returned to Disney's Burbank studio as the lead animator for John Silver in Treasure Planet. In 2003, Keane began work as the director of Disney's CGI animated film, Tangled (based on the Brothers Grimm story Rapunzel), which released in November 2010. In Tangled, Glen and his team hoped to bring the unique style and warmth of traditional animation to computer animation. In October 2008, due to some "non-life threatening health issues", Keane stepped back as director of Tangled, but remained the film's executive producer and an animating director.[6]

On March 23, 2012, having worked approximately 37 years at Disney, Glen Keane left Walt Disney Animation Studios. Keane said in a letter sent to his co-workers, “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. I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist its siren call to step out and discover them.”[7]

On December 2013, it was announced that he had joined Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects Group and is cooperating with its engineers to create interactive hand-drawn animation.[8][9] Keane released his first animated short- Duet- at the Google I/O Conference in San Francisco on June 25, 2014. It is the first hand-drawn cartoon made with 60 fps,[10] and the third in a series of shorts called the Spotlight Stories that are designed to explore spatial awareness and the sensory inputs of a mobile device to create a distinctive storytelling experience.[11]

Motorola was a subsidiary of Google when Keane joined. When Google sold Motorola in 2014 early, his group remained with Google.[12]

In 2015 it was revealed he, and 16 other top artists and filmmakers, had been hired by the Paris Opera to work on their 3rd Stage project. Glen Keane is the creator of the animated short called Nephtali, a reference to Jacob’s blessings and Psalm 42, and made in a choreography with ballet dancer Marion Barbeau.[13]

In addition to his work as an animator, Keane is the author and illustrator of a series of children's Bible parable books featuring Adam Raccoon and King Aren the Lion.


Year Title Credits Characters Notes
1973 My Favorite Martians Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Star Trek: The Animated Series Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Lassie's Rescue Rangers Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
Mission: Magic! Layout Artist TV series by Filmation
1977 The Rescuers Character Animator Penny,[14] Bernard[14]
Pete's Dragon Character Animator Elliott the Dragon[14]
1979 A Family Circus Christmas Animator/Models
1981 The Fox and the Hound Supervising Animator The Bear[14]
1982 A Family Circus Easter Models
1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol Animator Willie the Giant[14]
1985 The Black Cauldron Character Animator Gurgi, Princess Eilonwy[14]
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Supervising Animator Professor Ratigan[14]
1987 The Chipmunk Adventure Animator
Storyboard Artist
1988 Oliver & Company Supervising Animator
Character Designer
Jenny Foxworth [14],Fagin [14]
1989 The Little Mermaid Supervising Animator
Character Designer
1990 The Rescuers Down Under Supervising Animator
Character Designer
1991 Beauty and the Beast Supervising Animator Beast[14]
1992 Aladdin Supervising Animator Aladdin
1995 Pocahontas Supervising Animator
Visual Development
1999 Tarzan Supervising Animator
2002 Treasure Planet Supervising Animator John Silver, Captain Amelia and Scroop
2003 Mickey's PhilharMagic Animator Ariel
2010 Tangled Executive Producer
Animation Director
2012 Paperman Character Designer
Wreck-It Ralph Additional Visual Development
2014 Duet Director


  • Keane, Glen (1986). Adam Raccoon and the King's Big Dinner. Colorado Springs, Col.: Chariot Victor Pub.  
  • Keane, Glen (1987). Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Keane, Glen (1987). Adam Raccoon in Lost Woods. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Keane, Glen (1987). Adam Raccoon and the Circus Master. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Keane, Glen (1989). Adam Raccoon and the Flying Machine. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Keane, Glen (1989). Adam Raccoon and the Mighty Giant. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Campbell, Stan; Jane Vogel; John Duckworth; Jim Townsend; Glen Keane (ill.) (1992). Quick studies: Philippians–Hebrews. Elgin, Ill.: D.C. Cook Pub. Co.  
  • Campbell, Stan; John Duckworth; Jim Townsend; Glen Keane (ill.) (1992). Quick Studies: James–Revelation. Elgin, Ill.: D.C. Cook Pub. Co.  
  • Keane, Glen (1993). Adam Raccoon and the Race to Victory Mountain. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Keane, Glen (1995). Adam Raccoon and Bully Garumph. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Keane, Glen (1995). Cookie time: a first lesson in obedience. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Keane, Glen (1995). Follow the king: A first lesson in trust. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Books.  
  • Keane, Glen; Samii Taylor; Joe Yakovetic (1995). Parables for Little Kids. Elgin, Ill.: Chariot Family Pub.  

See also


  1. ^ Ghez, Didier (Fall 1998). "Glen Keane: An Interview". Animation Journal 7 (1): 52–69.  
  2. ^ a b c Ghez, Didier, "Interview with Glen Keane". Walt Disney Feature Animation France, Montreuil: May 2, 1997 retrieved 2008-08-10
  3. ^ Paik, Karen; Iwerks, Leslie (November 2007). To infinity and beyond!: the story of Pixar Animation Studios. Chronicle Books. pp. 38–39.  
  4. ^ A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation
  5. ^ Ghez, Didier (2011). Walt's People: Talking Disney With the Artists Who Knew Him 11. Xlibris. pp. 502–562.  
  6. ^ Glen Keane leaving Disney's RAPUNZEL. Who's stepping up?, Disney in-house memo, Ain't It Cool News, October 9, 2008
  7. ^ Anderson, Paul (March 25, 2012). "Glen Keane quits Disney Animation after 38 years". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  8. ^ Disney legend Glen Keane joins Spotlight Stories
  9. ^ It’s Official: Glen Keane Joins Motorola to Direct Interactive Hand-Drawn Short Film
  10. ^ Veteran Animator Glen Keane on His ‘Duet’ With Google
  11. ^ Koch, Dave (June 28, 2014). "Glen Keane’s Animated Poem Duet". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ Finley, Klint (June 30, 2014). "Motorola’s ‘Mad Science’ Department Will Stay With Google". Wired. 
  13. ^ Glen Keane Creates ‘Nephtali' Short for the Paris Opera
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Cawley John Glen Keane How to Create Animation, Interviews, August 22, 1990

External links

  • Glen Keane at the Internet Movie Database
  • Glen Keane lecture at CalArts on YouTube
  • "The Art of Glen Keane" Blog
  • Glen Keane interview for the Animation Podcast
  • Interview with Glen Keane about 'Tangled', April 18, 2011
  • Duet at the Big Cartoon DataBase
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