Legendary Dis artist Peter Ellenshaw dies


Peter Ellenshaw, the visual effects pioneer and matte artist who won an Oscar for "Mary Poppins" and worked his magic on other live-action Disney classics like "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "Treasure Island," died Monday at his home in Santa Barbara. He was 93.

Ellenshaw, a painter known for his dramatic seascapes and elegant Irish landscapes, was hand-picked by Walt Disney to serve on the studio's creative team. He painted the iconic first map of Disneyland that was featured on all the early postcards and souvenir booklets.

Ellenshaw began his association with Disney in 1947 when he was tapped to work on the studio's first live-action film, "Treasure Island" (1950), and he continued working there until his retirement in 1979 following "The Black Hole." He came out of retirement to do several matte paintings for the 1990 film "Dick Tracy."

Other Disney films on which Ellenshaw worked included "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" (1959), "The Sword in the Rose" (1953), "The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men" (1952), "The Love Bug" (1968), "The Island on Top of the World" (1974) and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (1971). He earned Oscar nominations for the latter two in addition to "The Black Hole" and "Mary Poppins."

Ellenshaw also made major artistic contributions to Disney 1950s television shows "Davy Crockett" and "Zorro."

Before Disney, he worked on the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger 1947 classic "Black Narcissus." The native of Great Britain apprenticed for visual effects pioneer W. Percy "Pop" Day in the early 1930s.

"Peter was a Disney legend in every sense of the word and played a vital role in the creation of many of the studio's greatest live-action films from the very beginning," Roy E. Disney said in a statement released by the studio. "He was a brilliant and innovative visual effects pioneer who was able to consistently please my Uncle Walt and push the boundaries of the medium to fantastic new heights."

Ellenshaw is survived by his two children, Lynda Ellenshaw Thompson (an industry veteran visual effects producer), and Harrison Ellenshaw (a visual effects artist who was an Oscar nominee for "The Black Hole," matte supervisor on "Star Wars: Episodes IV and V" and visual effects supervisor for "Tron"), as well as his two grandchildren, Michael and Hilary. His wife of 58 years, Bobbie, passed away in 2000.

Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations can be made to Direct Relief International in Santa Barbara.