When Michael Culhane was ten years old, he interviewed Art Babbitt in his family’s home, about how Art animated Fantasia’s Mushroom Dance, and he little protagonist, Hop Low.
“Where did Hop Low come from?” I asked him.
Mr. Babbitt told me about story directors like Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, and Sam Armstrong, and story sketched by Jules Engel, and color models of the mushroom drawn by Elmer Plummer. He said that they were caricatured personifications of a small group of Chinese, dressed in long robes and wearing Coolie hats, with just a suggestion of pigtail underneath. “Plummer’s drawings were very nice,” he said. “But as you work with them, and endow them with life, and they start to animate, certain changes take place. So the animation changed the design slightly from Plummer’s drawings. And then there were other changes that took place when Bill Hurtz, my assistant, cleaned up the drawings. And then there were enhancing things that were added by the effects department.”
Jake: The mushrooms have always been my absolute favorite of Art’s work. They charmed me in my youth – and they still have the same impact. Love ’em! And, truly appreciate your efforts to tell Art’s story. Means a great deal to many of us.
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