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Legendary Disney Animator Dies At 98

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Legendary Disney animator Xavier "X" Atencio has died at the age of 98.

Atencio worked for Disney from 1938, when he started as a teenager, up to his retirement in 1984, working on iconic films like "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia," as well as doing work on some of Disneyland's most well known rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, according to Variety.

Atencio had left the company temporarily during World War II to serve in the Army Air Corps. When he came back, he worked on stop-motion for live action Disney movies like "Mary Poppins" and "The Parent Trap," Daily Mail reports.

Atencio also worked as an Imagineer, designing aspects of rides at the company's theme parks. When Atencio had begun working on rides as an Imagineer, he mainly had animation experience, but Walt Disney reportedly requested that he join the Imagineers.

"I went over there reluctantly because I didn’t know what I was getting into, and nobody there knew what I was supposed to do either," said Atencio, according to Gizmodo. "About a month later I got a phone call from Walt. He told me ‘I want you to do the script for the Pirates of the Caribbean.'"

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"X was an enormous talent who helped define so many of our best experiences around the world," said Walt Disney Imagineering President Bob Weis. "Some may not know that when he wrote the lyrics for 'Yo Ho' [in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride] 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. That was how X worked - with an enthusiastic, collaborative attitude, along with a great sense of humor. His brilliant work continues to inspire Imagineers and bring joy to millions of guests every year."

In 1996, Atencio was inducted as a Disney Legend. Throughout his career at Disney, Atencio said his reward for his work was "the audience's reactions," according to BoingBoing.

In July, another Disney legend, Marty Sklar, passed away at 83.

Sklar had helped Walt Disney to create the video that showed investors and government the idea for the EPCOT area in Disney's theme park.

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"From his days working as an intern with Walt to just two weeks ago engaging with fans at D23 Expo, Marty left an indelible mark on Disney Parks around the globe and on all of the guests who make memories every day with us," said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapeks.

"We will dearly miss Marty’s passion, skill and imaginative spark that inspired generations of cast, crew and Imagineers," Chapeks said at the time.

Sources: Variety, Daily Mail, Gizmodo (2), BoingBoing / Featured Image: Danuv/Flickr / Embedded Photos: Steve/Flickr, Wikimedia Commons

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