Animator Glen Keane Resign From Walt Disney Studios

Glen Keane, who has worked nearly four decades as an animator at the Walt Disney Studios, has resigned to pursue new toon projects.

Keane is best known for overseeing the animation for the title characters in "The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin," "Pocahontas," "Tarzan," as well as Beast in "Beauty and the Beast," and Rapunzel in "Tangled." His credits also include "The Rescuers" and "Pete's Dragon."

The Mouse House confirmed the departure of the animation vet.

"After an incredible 38-year career as an animator, storyteller, and filmmaking pioneer with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Glen Keane has decided that the time has come to take the next step in his personal exploration of the art of animation," the company said in a statement. "As much as we are saddened by his departure, we respect his desires and wish him the very best with all his future endeavors."

Keane alerted studio co-workers of the move in an email Friday, in which he called Disney his "artistic home," but after "long and thoughtful consideration," decided there are "endless new territories to explore." He paid tribute to the veteran Disney toonsmiths, including some of those who Walt Disney famously dubbed the Nine Old Men, for schooling him.

"I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me -- Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston -- as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years," he wrote. "I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can't resist its siren call to step out and discover them."

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