Disney visual effects veteran Peter Ellenshaw dies at 93

MUMBAI: Peter Ellenshaw, the Oscar winning visual effects pioneer and matte artist who is known for his work on several Disney classics like Mary Poppins, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Darby O‘Gill and the Little People, Treasure Island and The Black Hole, passed away at his home in Santa Barbara on 12 February at the age of 93.

(Source: Walt Disney Studios)

Announcing his demise, an official statement referred to him as "a hand-picked member of Walt Disney‘s creative team." Ellenshaw was called upon to create a wide variety of visual effects for the Studio‘s films, and even painted the iconic first map of Disneyland that was featured on all the early postcards and souvenir booklets.

Ellenshaw regarded Walt Disney as a source of inspiration, a wonderful executive, and over the years, a good friend. "Walt had the ability to communicate with artists," observed Ellenshaw. "He‘d talk to you on your level -- artist to artist. He used to say, ‘I can‘t draw, Peter.‘ But he had the soul of an artist, and he had a wonderful way of transferring his enthusiasm to you."

Ellenshaw began his association with Walt Disney in 1947, when he was tapped to work on the Studio‘s first live-action film, Treasure Island (1950), and continued working there until his retirement in 1979 following The Black Hole. Born in Great Britain in 1913, Ellenshaw began his film career in the early 1930s, when he apprenticed for visual effects pioneer W. Percy (Pop) Day, O.B.E. He worked on such productions as Things to Come, Rembrandt, Elephant Boy, Sixty Glorious Years, A Matter of Life and Death, and the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger classic Black Narcissus.

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