Profile of an Imagineer: Mary Blair
Mary Blair was a talented artist who is best remembered for her work done for The Walt Disney Company. She was largely responsible for introducing modern art to Walt Disney and his studio, and her impact on his vision is seen in many Disney films and throughout the Disney parks.
Born Mary Robinson on October 21, 1911 in McAlester, Oklahoma, she moved to California at the age of 7. After graduating from San Jose State College she won a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute in Lost Angeles. In 1934 she married fellow artist Lee Blair.
Mary Blair at Work in the Disney Studios
She spent the early part of her career working in animation section of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). In 1940 she joined her husband at the Walt Disney Studio. While at Disney studio she worked on a variety of projects including, a proposed second version of "Fantasia" and "Baby Ballet", which was never produced.
Blair joined the Disney expedition to South America in 1941, which was a part of FDR's Good Neighbor policy. During her time in South America she worked on painting watercolors that would capture the spirit of the different countries they visited. As a result she was named art supervisor on "The Three Caballeros" and "Saludos Amigos."
Her distinct color and styling influenced many Disney post-war productions such as "Song of the South," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," and many more.
Blair is also credited for the style and concept of the It's a Small World attraction that was originally designed for the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair and was later moved to Disneyland in California and then replicated at Disney parks all over the world.
A 90-foot-high mural at Disney's Contemporary Resort in Florida was designed by Blair for the resort's opening in 1971. The mural is still a focal point at the resort today.
Mary Blair passed away in 1978 in Soquel, California. She was named a Disney legend in 1991. Are you a fan of the unique style to Mary's art? Leave a comment below to let us know, or hop over to the forums and discus it in depth!