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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Disney artist dies
Scene from Donald Duck
Peet started his career drawing Donald Duck
The illustrator and writer Bill Peet, who drew the flying elephant Dumbo and helped create a range of Disney classics, has died at the age of 87.

He worked on the animated films Fantasia, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and wrote the screenplay for 101 Dalmatians.

He profoundly influenced some of the studio's greatest features

John Canemaker
Animation historian
Peet died on Saturday at his home in the San Fernando Valley in California, Disney vice-president Howard Green said.

He recently had pneumonia and fought cancer and heart problems in recent years.

Peet worked on the storyboards that later became some of Disney's first animated films.

"Bill Peet was Walt Disney's greatest story man and considered to be on a par with Walt himself in terms of telling strong stories with vibrant characters," animation historian John Canemaker said.

Disney classics

"He profoundly influenced some of the studio's greatest features and created some of its most memorable characters."

Among the Disney classics Peet was involved in were Fantasia, released in 1940, Cinderella in 1950, Alice in Wonderland in 1951, and Sleeping Beauty in 1959.

Peet wrote the screenplay for 101 Dalmatians in 1961, before tackling Arthurian legend in The Sword in the Stone two years later.

Mickey Mouse in Fantasia
Fantasia was an early success for Peet
After these animated features, Peet left the studio in 1964 because of a stormy relationship with Walt Disney.

In his 1989 autobiography, Peet said he drew the evil Captain Hook in Peter Pan to resemble Disney.

Peet also asked that his name be taken from the credits of The Jungle Book, which was in development, because he disliked changes made after he left the project.

After Peet left Disney, he published children's books, including Goliath II, The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg and Chester the Worldly Pig.

Rapid rise

Born and raised in Indiana, Peet started his career as an artist for a greeting card company in Dayton, Ohio.

He later responded to an advertisement that read: "Walt Disney is looking for artists."

He soon began drawing Donald Duck cartoons and was assigned to work on Pinocchio, helping him rise through the company.

He received more than a dozen awards for children's literature and earned a major award for contributions to animation.

See also:

23 Apr 02 | Film
Toy Story beats the classics
22 Apr 02 | Film
Pixar and Disney get animated
08 Feb 02 | Reviews
Monsters is frightful fun
09 Feb 02 | Oscars 2002
The man behind the monsters
22 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Animation wizards back staff talent
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