An Extraordinary life - Brice Harvey Mack - June, 1917 - January, 2008
Producer, Director, Writer, Background Painter, Illustrator, Cartoonist,
Navigator, Athlete, Husband, Father and Grandfather.
Brice Mack, who painted animation backgrounds for Walt Disney in the 30's,
40's and 50's and produced and directed commercials and films in the 60's,
70's and 80's, died January 2 in Hollywood, California. He was 90.
A legend in the world of animation with an award winning career spanning
five decades, Mack painted backgrounds for "Fantasia", "Pinocchio" and
many other classic Disney films including "Snow White and the Seven
Dwarfs", "Cinderella", "Alice in Wonderland", "Peter Pan", "Song of the
South" and "Lady and the Tramp". He also painted backgrounds for many
short subjects including the 1942 Academy Award winning "Lend a Paw".
Mack also worked as a writer in the story department and did illustrations
for various Disney projects including the Peter Pan children's book and a
Peter Pan mural in Captain Hook's pirate ship at Disneyland which was
completed just prior to the park's opening.
In addition to working for Disney, Brice also did freelance illustrations,
articles and cartoons for magazines including "Ford Times", "Colliers",
and "True". One article he wrote and illustrated was about a new activity
called "skin-diving". Brice was an early pioneer of skin diving and made
his own equipment. He loved diving for abalone and lobster in the rocky
coves of Catalina Island.
During WW2 Mack left Disney in 1942 and became a pioneering navigator for
the Air Transport Command. He delivered aircraft, cargo, and personnel
throughout the world until the end of the war.
After the war, in 1945, Mack returned to Disney. In 1954 he left to start
Era productions, a commercial production company specializing in
animation. Many Disney artists and animators came to work for him and he
continued to do contract work for his good friend Walt Disney. Notably,
Mr. Mack painted the first iconic Disney Castle illustration for "The
Wonderful World of Disney" TV show.
Mack's company also provided animation for The Petersen Company, one of
the top commercial production houses in Hollywood during the 60's and
70's. Mack produced and directed scores of animated and live action TV
commercials for the Petersen company.
Mack went on to produce and direct commercials, films and theme park rides
with his company, Unicorn Productions and continued to consult for Disney
until his retirement in the early nineties.
Mack's feature directing credits include "Jennifer" (1977), "Swap Meet"
(1978), "Half a House" (1979) and "Rooster" (1983). He also produced
"Mara of the Wilderness" (1965) and "Ruby" (1977).
Mack knew and worked with many classic Hollywood characters from Edward G.
Robinson to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. He knew John Wayne and Clark Gable
and at one time was neighbor to both. During the golden age of Hollywood,
he was a well known fixture at The Brown Derby, Musso Franks and the Smoke
Mack and his cartoonist friends Dick Shaw, and Virgil Partch had many
notorious parties and adventures. In 1950, for a "Ford Times" article,
they drove in the first Mexican Road Race.
Around this same time Mack and Shaw created the first character boat, "The
Michigan" and as founding members of "The Balboa Island Punting and
Skulling club" they organized the first character boat parade.
Mack and his cartoon comrades once put wheels on a boat and partied as
they drove it to Las Vegas where a crane waited to lower it into the pool
of the Sands hotel. Another time they put a train car on a barge and
partied as they drove it to Catalina Island. In 1961 they held a party on
the last Red Car ride from L.A. to Long Beach, dancing to animator pal
Ward Kimball's Dixieland Jazz band, "The Firehouse Five Plus Two".
Brice enjoyed frequent summer vacations with his family and friends
anchored off Catalina island aboard his 42' converted WW2 landing craft,
"The Tijuana Rose".
The son of a Navy commander, Mack was born in the Philippines and grew up
in Alaska, Virginia, and California. The nomadic Navy family moved often,
so Brice was on football and track teams at multiple high schools. He was
also a boy scout and earned their highest honor of Eagle Scout in 1932.
Because of this distinction he attended President F.D.R.'s inaugural
address in 1933.
In his senior year in high school, Mack earned an athletic scholarship to
the University of Arizona, where he was on the football and track teams.
He set a record for the discus throw that stood for many years. He was
also an avid boxer and served in the Cavalry. Being an artist and
intellectual as well as an agile athlete with incredible physical
strength, he earned the nickname "Muscle-brain". Often shortened to
"Muscles", or "Muscle", the name stuck with him throughout his life.
At the University of Arizona Brice met and married Margaret Louise
Spencer. They had two sons, Brice and Greg. The couple divorced in the
In 1957 Brice married fellow Disney artist, Helen Virginia Mack and had a
third son, Kevin.
Kevin, who worked for his father for many years and is now an Academy
Award winning Visual Effects Supervisor, had this to say...
"Brice Mack was loved and respected by everyone who knew him for his
talent, enthusiasm and light hearted nature. He was an amazing friend and
mentor to a great many and a devoted husband and father. He will be
remembered for his quick and relentless humor and his endless supply of
amazing, unforgettable stories."
Brice is Survived by his wife, Ginni, his sons, Brice, Greg and Kevin and
his grandsons, Jon, Ray and Danny.