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Howard Swift

Biography for Howard Swift: Hanna-Barbera story director and one of the 50 most influential Disney Animators

Media Type: Pen and Ink
Art Type: Animation
Artists: Howard Swift Layouts

Subject: Bio for Howard Swift... 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL DISNEY ANIMATORS Countdown of the 50 Most Influential Animators in Disney Studio History: 48. Howard Swift Sometimes an animator is talented in an unconventional way. Not only do they not apply the rules but their style is so unique and genius in its own right that there is no need to even understand the rules. However they understand thoughts, acting, and emotions making up for their less-than-adequate draftsmanship. This is the case with Howard Swift. A straight-ahead animator and crazy guy in a largely pose-to-pose, serious studio, Swift made his mark by animating some unforgettable scenes: the ostriches dancing in the Dance of the Hours sequence in Fantasia and of course animating half of the one and only Pink Elephants on Parade sequence in Dumbo. Just as he was growing into his own as an animator the strike of’41 happened and Frank Tashlin brought him over to Screen Gems. No one will ever know if his genius and talent would be considered past its prime like Fergy or if he would be regarded as unique but special talents like Ward Kimball but we can’t analyze work on movies he never worked on.

Howard Swift’s impact would have probably been larger if it weren’t for his leaving the studio after only a few years. However he was one of the animators that proved that animation with no rules could exist in films and worlds with personality animation that was more realistically done. This would be followed by genius performances by Ward Kimball, Woolie Reitherman, John Sibley, Duncan Majoribanks, Eric Goldberg, and many others. It would be an overstatement to say Swift is even a somewhat crucial figure or inspiration in any of those people’s careers but he was one of the first animators of that breed for sure. Also he was a great animator and that accounts for something.

Swift’s Work Pinocchio- Animator on Geppetto(uncredited) Fantasia- Animator on the ostriches in the Dance of the Hours
Dumbo- Animator on the Ringmaster(including Parade scene and the part where he says”Duuummmboooo…I got it! I got it!) and all of the second half of Pink Elephants(the iceskying, the elphants running into eachother, the elephant with the lightning bolt, the camel elephant, the monster made up of elephant faces, etc.)

After the Disney animator's strike, Swift last the studio and worked in the Air Force animation unit. With the war's end, Swift was a director at Screen Gems and later story director at Hanna- Barbera from 1966-81 before forming his own company, Swift-Chaplin Productions.


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