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Mary Browne Robinson

Mary Blair

Real Name
Mary Blair
Employers
Titles
Gender
Female
Year of Birth
October 21, 1911
Place of Birth
McAlester Oklahoma, USA
Year of Death
July 26, 1978
Pseudonyms
Mary Blair
Official Website
Gallery

Mary Blair (October 21, 1911 – July 26, 1978), born Mary Robinson, was an American artist who was prominent in producing art and animation for The Walt Disney Company, drawing concept art for such films as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Song of the South and Cinderella.[1] Blair also created character designs for enduring attractions such as Disneyland's It's a Small World, the fiesta scene in El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, and an enormous mosaic inside Disney's Contemporary Resort. Several of her illustrated children's books from the 1950s remain in print, such as I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss. Blair was honored as a Disney Legend in 1991.

PersonalHistory Edit

Early lifeEdit

Born on October 21, 1911, in McAlester, Oklahoma, Mary Browne Robinson moved to Texas while still a small child, and later to California around the age of seven. After graduating from San Jose State College, Mary won a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, where artists such as Pruett Carter, Morgan Russell and Lawrence Murphy were among the teachers. In 1934, she married another artist, Lee Everett Blair (October 1, 1911 – April 19, 1993). She was the sister-in-law of animator Preston Blair (1908–94).

CareerEdit

Mary and Lee Blair both soon began to work in the animation industry, joining the Ub Iwerks studio. Lee went on to work at the Harman-Ising studios, before ultimately joining the Walt Disney studio, where he was joined by his wife in 1940. Mary Blair worked briefly on art for Dumbo, an early version of Lady and the Tramp, and a second version of Fantasia which was not released until the late 1990s.

After leaving the studio for a short time in 1941, Mary travelled to various South American countries with Walt and Lillian Disney and other artists on a research tour as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy. During those trips, Mary and Lee worked on concept art for the animated feature films Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, with Mary credited as art supervisor on those films.

After that, she worked on several package films, excluding Fun and Fancy Free, and on two partially animated features — Song of the South and So Dear to My Heart. The early 1950s were a busy time for the Disney studio, with an animated feature released nearly every year. Mary Blair was credited with color styling on Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953), and the artistic influence of her concept art is strongly felt in those films, as well as in several animated shorts, including Susie the Little Blue Coupe and The Little House, she designed during that period.[2]

Disneys-contemporary-resort-mosaic-closeup

Blair, Mary (1971), "Mosaic", Contemporary Resort, Disney.

After the completion of Peter Pan, Mary Blair resigned from Disney and worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, creating advertising campaigns for companies such as Nabisco, Pepsodent, Maxwell House, Beatrice Foods and others. She also illustrated several Little Golden Books for publisher Simon & Schuster, some of which remain in print today, and she also designed Christmas and Easter sets for Radio City Music Hall.

At the request of Walt Disney, who regarded highly her innate sense of color styling, Blair began work on Disney's new attraction, "It's a Small World". Originally a Pepsi-Cola-sponsored pavilion benefiting UNICEF at the 1964 New York World's Fair, the attraction moved to Disneyland after the Fair closed and was later replicated at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort as well as Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

In 1967, Mary Blair created mural art for the Tomorrowland Promenade. Two similar tile murals flanked the entrance corridor. The mural over[Adventure Thru Inner Space was covered over in 1987 with the opening of Star Tours, while the other remained in place until 1998 when the Circle-Vision 360° was replaced by Rocket Rods and a new mural was designed to reflect the new theme. Her design of a 90 foot mural remains a focal point of the Disney's Contemporary Resort hotel at Walt Disney World, which was completed for the resort's opening in 1971.

In 1968, Blair was credited as color designer on the film version of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Mary Blair died of a cerebral hemorrhage on July 26, 1978.[1]

LegacyEdit

While the fine art she created outside of her association with Disney and her work as an illustrator is not widely known, Blair's bold and ground-breaking color design still inspires many of today's contemporary designers and animators. A Google doodle was created on Friday, October 21, 2011, to commemorate the centennial of her birth. The Doodle featured an image of an illustrator as Mary might have drawn herself, surrounded by the simple patterns and shapes that made up her familiar cartoon world.[3]

In 1991, Blair was recognized with a posthumous Disney Legend award. Also posthumously, she received the Winsor McCay award from ASIFA-Hollywood in 1996.[4]

See alsoEdit

Alice in Wonderland
Peter Pan
Song of the South
Cinderella

ProfessionalHistoryEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Canemaker, John (2003), The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation, Disney Press, International Standard Book Number 0-7868-5391-3.
  • Blair, Mary; McHugh, Gelolo (2010) [1950], Baby's House, Little Golden Books, Simon & Schuster, International Standard Book Number 0-375-85460-6.
  • Blair, Mary; Krauss, Ruth (1992) [1951], I Can Fly, Little Golden Books, Simon & Schuster, International Standard Book Number 0-307-00146-6.
  • Clark Potter, Miriam (1953), The Golden Book of Little Verses, Simon & Schuster.
  • Blair, Mary; Lloyd, Norman (1955), The New Golden Song Book, Golden Press.

NotesEdit

TriviaEdit

Disney Legend Award
Winsor McCay Award

RecommendedEdit

LinksEdit

External linksEdit

Creator GalleryEdit

Mary Blair Gallery

ReferencesEdit

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