Harold Whitaker, Animal Farm animator obituary

Harold Whitaker's characters included Farmer Jones in the animated version of Animal Farm

Harold Jackson Whitaker, animator, born 5 June 1920; died 26 December 2013.

Harold Whitaker, who has died aged 93, drew some of the most memorable scenes in British animation history. He successfully captured the pathetic, drunken brutishness of George Orwell’s Farmer Jones in Britain’s first animated feature film, Animal Farm (1954), but was most at home in the comedic realm. Figures such as the naive inventor of the self-reproducing car in the allegorical Automania 2000 (1963) were full of boisterous energy, earning that film an Oscar nomination for best animated short – another British first.

A quiet, reserved figure, with a healthy resentment of any camera pointed his way, Harold had no desire to run his own company and preferred to work under the direction of others. Despite this, he became a key player in an industry from which he kept a discreet distance.

He was born in Cottingham, east Yorkshire, but was brought up around Manchester. He attended Stretford grammar school, where his father taught mathematics and conducted the school orchestra. Harold was introduced to the piano at seven, but his true interest was in drawing, which he pursued at Macclesfield art school. His father directed him to a position at a bank, but via a convoluted path (involving his woodwork teacher’s brother-in-law) he gained a position at one of London’s biggest commercial art studios, James Howarth and Brother.

Full article at the Guardian


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