Paul Carlson has worked in the world of animation for over forty-five years.  The early years and involvement with The Walt Disney Studios started in 1953, working as a traffic boy.  This initial “job description” changed quickly and by 1954 Paul was working as an “in betweener” on Lady And The Tramp.  During this production he became involved in drawing lay-out and was also appointed as Assistant Animator.  Disney’s next animation feature was Sleeping Beauty, a great break for Paul, as he was appointed Assistant Director of Animation to Dale Bramman and the famous Marc Davis.

After Sleeping Beauty, Paul illustrated six books on how to draw Disney characters.  This involved working with Ken Pettonson, head of animation.  The book required the personal approval of Walt Disney and regular meetings between Paul, Ken and Walt were established for the completion of the project.

From there, Carlson moved up the ladder to production co-ordinator under Don Duckwall (Animation Studio Co-ordinator).  In this area Paul worked with Sharron Disney (Walt Disney’s daughter), incorporating a special unit producing animation commercials.  Over 100 television commercials were produced during a two year period, the majority being used on three classic television shorts on A.B.C. television.

Walt Disney Presents – became known as Disneyland and seen in Australia on Sunday afternoon.
      Mickey Mouse Club.

Zorro – half hour live action starring Guy Williams.

Paul was assistant to Nick Nicholls, and as both men had worked in live   action as well as animation, the job of directing the boss in his film lead-ins fell to them.  Carlson has a wealth of untold stories about Walt Disney stemming from the unique association.

In late 1958 and early 1959 Paul returned to feature animation and was involved in drawing lay-out and clean-up on the classic 101 Dalmations.  This film was also something of a turning point in animation.  It was the first time the outline drawings were transferred to the acetate cel by the xerographic process – in the past all cels had been hand inked.

1960 saw a change in Paul Carlson’s career as he moved from the Disney Studios to U.P.A. where he was appointed Production Co-ordinator.  It was to be another eleven years before he would again work on the famed Disney characters.  At U.P.A. he worked on Mr Magoo in the television feature Christmas Carol and also with director Chuck Jones on Gay Puree this production also included famous animator Abe Levitow.

The start of 1963 saw Paul’s career take him to another studio “Quarter Films Of Hollywood” where he was appointed Animation Production Manager.  The unit made animated television commercials and included such famous animators as Abe Babbit and Stan Walsh.  Over three hundred commercials were made at the studio including the four following productions which were used worldwide.

1.      Fruit Loops – featuring the McCaw bird “Toucan”.
      Snap, Crackle Pop for Kellog.
      Green Giant.
      Tony The Tiger – Frosted Flakes Advertisement.

Carlson made a brief return to U.P.A. in early 1971 to work on “Uncle Sam Magoo” for N.B.C.  During the latter part of 1971 he opened his own studio “Paul Carlson Cartoons”.  The studio had great success and in 1976 was appointed exclusively by Disney to create educational cartoon filmstrips to be used in U.S. grammar schools.  The films covered such topics as Measurement, History, Nutrition and The Value Of Things.  Many characters were featured including Winnie The Pooh, Jiminy Cricket, Goofy and Donald Duck.  At the studio’s peak, Paul Carlson Cartoons employed over thirty animators and artists.

Paul Carlson is a true Journeyman in the field of animation.  Today he still heads his own company, which produces cartoons and advertisements featuring Mr Magoo.  His only regret from his days at Disney is that he never had a picture taken with Walt Disney; “I could kick myself” he says, “but I was one of his hands and I liked him a lot”.


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