Animator, park attraction developer, and overall Disney Legend, X Atencio, passed away on September 10. The 98 year old lived a pretty amazing life, and gave millions of people joy and happiness through his work.
X was a Disney fan at heart. Born September 4, 1919 in Walsenburg, Colorado, art seemed to be his calling. In 1937 he moved to Los Angeles to attend the Chouinard Art Institute, and shortly after that in 1938 he was officially working for Disney–something he thought was out of reach. At just 18 he had achieved so much, but that was only the beginning. By 1940 his work could be seen in the film Pinocchio. He was then promoted to assistant animator for Fantasia–but left temporarily to join the war effort in Europe.
X’s film work is extensive. The Parent Trap, Babes In Toyland, and Marry Poppins all benefited from his stop motion animation. In 1965 Walt Disney himself had asked X to transfer to WED Enterprises, but X was unsure about the move at first; “I went over there reluctantly because I didn’t know what I was getting into, and nobody there knew what I was supposed to do either,” he recalled. “About a month later I got a phone call from Walt. He told me ‘I want you to do the script for the Pirates of the Caribbean.’” This would prove to be X’s legacy in Disney. After Pirates, he worked on the fan favorite Haunted Mansion, providing the script and co-writing Grim Grinning Ghosts. He helped with Space Mountain (in Disney World), and Spaceship Earth. X took that WED challenge, and excelled at an admirable pace. He retired in 1984, but remained a consultant for Disney Imagineers. In 1996 he was inducted as a Disney Legend.
X will be missed by many, but his legacy will live on for years to come.
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