Pinoc­chio, Fan­ta­sia an­i­ma­tor ‘X’ Aten­cio dead at 98

Northern News (Kirkland Lake) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

LOS AN­GE­LES — Xavier “X” Aten­cio, an an­i­ma­tor be­hind early Dis­ney movies in­clud­ing Pinoc­chio and Fan­ta­sia and “imag­i­neer” be­hind beloved Dis­ney­land rides like Pi­rates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Man­sion, has died at age 98.

Dis­ney­land spokes­woman Suzi Brown con­firmed a com­pany state­ment say­ing Aten­cio died Sun­day. No cause or place of death were given, but Aten­cio lived and worked in the Los An­ge­les area most of his life.

Aten­cio’s draw­ings on Pinoc­chio helped give Dis­ney its per­ma­nent iden­tity in film and cul­ture. His con­tri­bu­tions to Pi­rates in­cluded the words to the Yo Ho (A Pi­rate’s Life for Me) song that is sung through­out the ride and by park­go­ers for days af­ter.

He was born Fran­cis Xavier Aten­cio in Walsen­burg, Colo. But friends in his youth called him just “X,” the name he was known by the rest of his life.

He was still a teenager with a gift for draw­ing in 1938 when he be­gan work­ing for Dis­ney, a com­pany that was even younger than he was and had just one fea­ture film — 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — to its name.

Aten­cio would see his work on the big screen in the com­pany’s next two films in 1940, when he helped bring Pinoc­chio to life and worked on the mu­si­cal and mys­ti­cal Fan­ta­sia be­fore leav­ing tem­po­rar­ily to serve in The Sec­ond World War.

Af­ter re­turn­ing, he helped de­sign stop-mo­tion se­quences for the Dis­ney live ac­tion films The Par­ent Trap and Mary Pop­pins.

When the com­pany’s work started in­clud­ing theme parks in the 1950s and 1960s, so did Aten­cio’s. At the re­quest of Walt Dis­ney, he be­came an imag­i­neer in the com­pany’s par­lance, help­ing de­sign rides for Dis­ney­land and Dis­ney World. He wrote the story and songs that play out on Pi­rates and Haunted Man­sion.

“X was an enor­mous tal­ent who helped de­fine so many of our best ex­pe­ri­ences around the world,” Bob Weis, pres­i­dent of Walt Dis­ney Imag­i­neer­ing, said in a state­ment. “Some may not know that when he wrote the lyrics for Yo Ho he had never ac­tu­ally writ­ten a song be­fore. He sim­ply pro­posed the idea of a tune for Pi­rates of the Caribbean, and Walt told him to go and do it.”

Aten­cio re­tired in 1984, but he con­tin­ued work­ing as a con­sul­tant. In 1996, was de­clared a Dis­ney Leg­end by the com­pany.

His death comes just weeks af­ter that of an­other Dis­ney Imag­i­neer­ing leg­end, Marty Sk­lar.

Aten­cio is sur­vived by his wife, Mau­reen, three chil­dren, three stepchil­dren and nine grand­chil­dren.

HAND­OUT/DIS­NEY

Dis­ney an­i­ma­tor and imag­i­neer, Xavier “X” Aten­cio, died at age 98.

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