Saturday, 25 September 2010

Ugo D'Orsi - Animator

Like I did with my article on Cy Young which I did some time ago, this time I'll post about another animator who worked at Disney in the Golden Years (1930's-early 1940's), and this time its on effects animator Ugo D'Orsi who opened up the Effects Department and was partnered with Cy Young - most of the info was from Joe Campana who sent me this via e-mail. To those who are unfamiliar let me say a bit about him: Ugo D'Orsi was an effects animator best known for his work at Disney and worked on features like Snow White, Fantasia and Bambi.
(Here is a picture of Ugo D'Orsi taken at his time at the
Fleischer Studios which was part of a group picture)
Ugo D'Orsi was born on July 28 (a day before my birthday) in 1897 in the city of Rio de Janeiro which is the largest city in Brazil and Ugo was born by Italian parents - although I don't know much about his early life but at some point in his 20's, he moved to Italy and residing in Naples and later.
In 1925, he married a woman with a long name called Lavinia Olimpia Maria Julia Falci - and they married until Lavinia's death in 1958 - although I have no record if the couple had any children or not. He immigrated to the United States in 1928 a year before the Wall Street Crash and he boarded the liner SS Saturina with 2'500 passenger (mostly Italians). His wife Lavinia reunited with him later that year.
He lived in New York and in 1932 he found himself working at the Fleischer Studios and he was animating on some of the Betty Boop cartoons - I have a picture of him which was part of a group photo at his time in Fleischer.
Ugo D'Orsi stayed at Fleischer for roughly a year or two and then in the Spring of 1933 he came to work for Walt Disney and started animating on some of the cartoons and created some of the greatest effects animation in history; Michael Barrier writes in his book Hollywood Cartoons about his involvement in his involvement in the cartoon The Wise Little Hen which was the first appearance of Donald Duck and Barrier writes that Ugo D'Orsi animated the chickens farming the corn and then it showed a scene of the corn just growing and growing until its a fully developed plant.
Soon, Ugo D'Orsi was teamed up with animator Cy Young on the effects animation department in 1934 - in the Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston book The Illusion of Life they described Ugo as a straightforward, stubborn and dedicated Italian; while I mentioned a bit about them on my Cy Young article, and in the book Frank and Ollie write about Ugo and Cy working on a scene in Snow White:
One day they were discussing a scene involving a witch's kettle bubbling over a fire. As drawn on the layout it was an old pot, rusty and partially covered with soot from years of cooking. Cy felt that light from the flames would be reflected evenly over the whole pot; Ugo claimed that the light would be only on the portions not covered by the soot, since soot has no reflective power. Each man was adamant, and, since there was only one way of proving who was right, a fire was built in an empty film can in the middle of the floor, with the shade from a goose-neck lamp inverted over it as the pot. Soon the flames were dancing merrily...
Although, I'm not too sure what it exactly means but it seems like a science experimental thing - and I heard that Ugo D'Orsi and Cy Young's arguments have been legendary.
Cy Young showed some beautiful and careful work in his animation and animating the blossoms falling into a waterfall in the Nutcracker Suite in Fantasia; Frank and Ollie wrote in their book: while Ugo showed more intensity and force in his work, but was equally sensitive to the total design. Typical of his drawings were the crashing waves that heeded Mickey's commands in the dream sequence of "The Soceror's Apprentice". The director of the picture commented on "the amazing patience and tenacity [Ugo] displayed in doing the filigree waves and foam...he 'pioneered' those...patterns practically out of his imagination, long before the help of the research photography.
So yes, Ugo D'Orsi did many of the great water-effects in Mickey Mouse Soceror's Apprentice section in Fantasia - and that is believed to be Ugo D'Orsi at his best and he certainly showed some strong force into his work.
(In Mickey's Sorceror's Apprentice - Ugo did many of the great
water effects - such force and weight into the animation he did)
In 1941 - Ugo left Disney and I'm unknown if it was due to the Disney animation strike or the war I do not know and another thing I'm not sure about is what he did after Disney's because he doesn't seem to have been heard again afterwards and there is no record if he ever worked in a different studio and I'm not sure what he did.
He died in February 12, 1964 in Los Angeles at the age of 66.
Yes, that's all, not a very interesting article but that was all the info I have on Ugo D'Orsi and I don't think its one of my better articles and I'm not as proud of it as I was with my Cy Young article but I'll still publish my Ugo D'Orsi article anyway. To those, who may be confused, I suggest read my Cy Young article first...


Eric Noble said...

Very interesting. It's sad that so many animators, effects or otherwise, have gone without notice for so long. Thank you for writing this and bringing this to my attention. I love it.

Steven Hartley said...

Cheers. Yes, this info is pretty much from Joe Campana and the Illusion of Life although I knew that he was at Fleischer before going to Disney.

Yeah, not a lot about him...I do have some information on Art Palmer although I can't write an article because I don't have too much on him and no picture to go with it - well info is better than nothing. I mean, take a look at Jack Campbell he is one of the mystery animators - and I remember trying to find info from Joe Campana and not a bean was found except only a caricature was found.

Rachelle D'Orsi said...

I liked the article, and I am curious about the fact that he and I share the very uncommon last name. I too am an artist. It would be very neat to find out if I am in some way related to him. So thank u for the bit of info that u did share so that I may be able to research it further.

Steven Hartley said...

Lovely to hear from you Rachelle, are you Italian or Brazilian - I'm asking because that's Ugo's region and wondering if you could be related :)

Davide Camusso said...

I was watching Snow White last night and I so Ugo D'Orsi in the animators list.
Since I am Italian I was curios to know more about him.

Thanks a lot for your article.


Anonymous said...

My uncle worked with D'Orsi and I have had in my possession a beautiful 11x14 watercolor of a Spanish California mission done by him around 1938. I would love to find out its appraised value, but I will keep it as an heirloom in the family.