Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Original Production Animation Drawing of Baloo The Bear Signed by Frank Thomas from "The Jungle Book," 1967

Original production animation drawing of Baloo The Bear in graphite pencil from "The Jungle Book," 1967, Walt Disney Studios; Signed by Frank Thomas in graphite pencil lower center; Numbered 63 lower and center right; Size - Baloo The Bear: 8 3/4 x 8 1/4", Sheet 12 1/2 x 15 1/2"; Unframed.

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"The Jungle Book," 1967 was the nineteenth animated feature film produced by Walt Disney Productions and inspired by Rudyard Kipling's book of the same name. The film was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was to be the last film that was worked on by Walt Disney, as he passed away during its production. The film follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as he encounters Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear; who try and convince him to leave the jungle before the villainous tiger Shere Khan finds him. Voice actors include: Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders and Louis Prima; as well as Disney regulars such as Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O'Malley, Verna Felton, and the director's son, Bruce Reitherman, as the voice of Mowgli.

Baloo, which means "bear" in Hindi, is one of the most beloved characters in the Disney pantheon. He is an obese blue-gray sloth bear, with large white claws. Aside from King Louie, Baloo is the only animal character to walk on two legs in the film. He also resembles Little John from Disney's "Robin Hood," who were both voiced by Phil Harris. Harris also provided the voice of Thomas O'Malley from Disney's "The Aristocats." Baloo and Little John perform the same dance moves with King Louie in "The Jungle Book" and with Lady Kluck in "Robin Hood." A little know fact is that Walt Disney was used as a reference for the animators for the dance moves seen when Baloo is first introduced in "The Jungle Book."

Close up of the original production animation drawing of Baloo The Bear.

Baloo was animated by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Ollie Johnston animated the first introduction of Baloo but Frank Thomas soon took over the character and, unlike so many other animators; was known for doing most, if not all of the rough drawings for his entire scene.

The Disney animator Andreas Deja wrote the following:
"This is actually not that unusual, since Frank usually contributed most or all of the drawings for any of his scenes. Other animators would often use a moving hold for calm moments, which involved only two key drawings with lots of in-betweens provided by the assistant. But Frank seems to always have something going on, even in the most subtle acting patterns. Something is always moving, things don’t come to a stop. As a result of producing so many drawings for a given scene, Frank could not focus on gorgeously designed poses or expressions. So his drawings by themselves might not look too intimidating to an animation student or professional, but watching them in motion is a whole other potato. The characters come to life in such a believable way, they breath, they move with weight, and they have real thoughts. In other words, they have a soul."

Close up of the production number.

This is a wonderful original production animation drawing of Baloo The Bear, drawn by Walt Disney master animator Frank Thomas. Thomas supervised the animation of this scene in which Baloo meets the man cub Mowgli; and they perform their great musical number "The Bare Necessities," under the watchful gaze of Bagheera. Early in the sequence, Baloo gives Mowgli quite a whack while trying to teach him how to defend himself; and Bagheera remarks sarcastically, "Fine teacher you are, old Iron Claws." In this scene Baloo looks up, smiles and responds: "Oh, thanks Bagheera." A fantastic drawing of an eyes open and smiling Baloo, and it is hand signed by Frank Thomas. A great addition to any animation art collection!