Disney's first African-American animator still working at 81 - CBS46 News

Disney's first African-American animator still working at 81

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Source: Floyd Norman via Facebook Source: Floyd Norman via Facebook
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

The name Floyd Norman may not ring a bell but chances are you have seen his work.

Norman was Disney's first African-American animator in the mid-1950s, and he has worked on countless movies including Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, and Toy Story.

In an interview with NPR in 2016, Norman said his love for animation began long before his Disney job.

"Any empty surface was a blank canvas for me," he says. "I was drawing on everything,"

Norman grew up in Santa Barbara, California and it was his upbringing he credits with giving him the confidence to apply for a job with Disney. He said he was shelter from a lot of the racial tension and segregation at the time. 

"I think the thought just never occurred to a lot of young black talent to apply for a job in the film industry," he said. "And it wasn't just Walt Disney. I'm sure the same thing happened at other film studios as well. There was a perception that opportunities were not available for people of color."

After Walt Disney’s death in 1966, Floyd left Disney to co-found the AfroKids animation studio with animator and director Leo Sullivan. One of group's projects included the original Hey! Hey! Hey! It’s Fat Albert television special, which aired in 1969 on NBC.

Floyd returned to Disney in the early 1970s to work on Robin Hood, was a layout artist on Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch, an animator on Jabberjaw, character designer and key layout artist on The New Fred and Barney Show, and key layout artist on The Kwicky Koala Show.

A documentary, "Floyd Norman: An Animated Life" was released in 2016 which traces the animator;s devotion to Disney.

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