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Creative Mind Behind Disney Hits, Including ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’, Dead at 68

Kent Melton dead at 68
Credit: Disney

In 1923, Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney founded Walt Disney Productions and, in 1937, changed the film industry with the release of the first fully animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After that, Disney became synonymous with incredible animated films. This includes Sleeping Beauty (1959), Cinderella (1950), The Jungle Book (1967), Pinocchio (1940), Peter Pan (1953), and so many more.

peter pan film

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Sadly, Walt passed away in 1966, and Roy passed away just four years later. After that, Disney hit a large stumbling block with its movies and went through a period where they didn’t see the success and the praise they once did. However, that changed in 1989, when the studio released its animated hit, The Little Mermaid.

What followed after that was a period known as the Disney Renaissance, which lasted throughout most of the 1990s. Disney released a ton of his films during that time, including Aladdin (1992), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Hercules (1997), Pocahontas (1995), and The Lion King (1994).

simba, rafiki, nala

Credit: Disney

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One of the key players behind Disney’s renaissance was Kent Melton, an extremely talented animation sculptor. As computer-animated films became more popular, animators who worked with clay became a rarity. He was one of the few people left who could bring an animator’s 2D dreams into 3D reality with his character sculptures.

Sadly, we have learned that Kent Melton has passed away at the age of 68.

Kent Melton

Credit: The Melton Family

According to reports, Melton died on Thursday, February 22, at his home in Stone County, Missouri. His family told The Hollywood Reporter that Melton suffered from Lewy Body Dementia. You may remember that disease as being the same one that Aladdin star and icon Robin Williams suffered from at the time of his death.

Kent Melton was born in Springfield, Missouri in 1955 and, shockingly, never attended art school. Instead, during his young adult years, he worked as a glass cutter and wood carver at the Silver Dollar City amusement park in Branson, Missouri. But he had bigger dreams than that. So, he packed up and moved to Los Angeles.

Kent Melton

Credit: Kent Melton Instagram

Once there, Melton managed to snag at job Hanna-Barbera, where he created sculptures for hit shows like The Flintstones and The Jetsons. 

When he got to Disney, he was one of the key players in making the Disney Renaissance as successful as it was. Melton worked on over a dozen films at Walt Disney Animation Studios, with his first credit coming on Aladdin. He also worked on Thumbelina (1994), The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules, Mulan (1998), The Prince of Egypt (1998), Tarzan (1999), The Road to El Dorado (2000), Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), Treasure Planet (2002), and The Incredibles (2004), which was from Pixar.

randy fullmer walt disney animation studios producers dies at age 73 hunchback of notre dame

Credit: Disney

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Melton leaves behind his wife, Martha, as well as his children Seth, Jordan, and Nellie. He also leaves behind his grandchildren, Persephone, Toby, Juliet, and Charlie.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Kent Melton.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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