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Walt Peregoy Mid century background artist with Disney

October 8, 2018

Walt Peregoy was born in Los Angeles in 1925. He spent his early childhood on a small island (Alameda, California) in San Francisco Bay.

He was nine years old when he began his formal art training by attending classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley, California.  At the age of 12, Walt’s family returned to Los Angeles, where he enrolled in Chouinard Art Institute’s life drawing classes.

At the age 17, he dropped out of high school and went to work for Walt Disney as an in-betweener.


In 1942, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and served for three years in the Infirmary as a 1st Class Petty Officer. After World War II he continued his art education, studying at the University de Belles Artes, San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico, and with Fernand Léger in Paris.


In 1951, Walt returned to the United States and resumed his career with The Walt Disney Studios. Although skilled with these more conventional projects, his personal style began to surface. Walt’s unique style began to meshed well with that of his contemporary, stylist Eyvind Earle.

Walt and Eyvind’s work on Paul Bunyan (1958) was nominated for an Academy Award in the short category.























Their unique style of animation on Paul Bunyan was a departure for Disney. Walt continued to work at Disney for an additional 14 years.























He was lead background painter on Sleeping Beauty (1959)


















Before embarking on the most ambitious, intelligent, and personal effort, his work as color stylist and background artist on One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), and The Sword in the Stone (1963).

He later worked on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969), and other series produced by Hanna-Barbera.

He returned to Disney (WED Enterprises in 1977 through 1983), contributing his unique view to the design of Epcot Center in Florida, where his influence included architectural facades, sculptures, fountains, show rides, murals and pavilions. This study drawing was done for his design work at the Epcot Center, in the Land and Imagination Building.

More backgrounds from other films.



Along with Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle and Joshua Meador, Walt was one of the featured artists in Disney’s Four Artists Paint One Tree documentary. This documentary illustrated the unique interpretation that each artist can bring to a single subject matter.

Walt’s work has been the subject of one Man Shows at: Stockton Museum, California; The University of Santa Clara, California; Galerie de Tour, San Francisco, California; Rutherford Gallery, San Francisco, California; Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, California; Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, California; Dickie Hall Gallery, Laguna, California; Jack Carr Gallery, Pasadena, California. He has also participated in group shows at: National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C..


He taught Background Styling at Brandes Art Institute from 1984–1985 as well as Principle of Drawing.

In the last years of his life, he continued to draw and paint in the Los Angeles area.

He was well known for being an artist with a strong belief in his work and someone who wasn’t afraid to speak their mind. He had disagreements with Walt Disney himself and even aired his views about the reality of working for Disney in a speech he gave when he was nominated for a Disney Legend Award in 2008.

It’s interesting to hear this because it shows a truer side of life at the Disney studios. His great granddaughter Jennifer Guzman said about the Awards ceremony…

” The rest of the people honored that day spoke for 2 to 3 mins. I think Uncle Walter would have gone much longer than these 10 mins if they hadn’t taken him off stage. I love how the band started trying to play him off… he will only speak louder.”

A great individualist and a true artist.







5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2018 8:29 am

    … as usual “WOW” and thank you once again Craig, I’m sure he would have given Piccasso a run for his money … bye for now.

  2. October 8, 2018 8:52 am

    Fabulous! I love all this! Thank you so much.

    Jo Hampshire UK
    Creating My Odyssey – Liberating the Real Me After 30 Years of Depression and Anxiety.

  3. Deirdre O'Sullivan permalink
    October 8, 2018 11:00 am

    That was utterly brill! 101 Dalmatians is my favourite Disney film, due mainly to the modernist styling of Peregoy. His background art looked so spontaneous and almost slap dash, but I saw an interview with him, and he said he planned it all very carefully. His radical style really annoyed the ultra conservative Disney, who was furious with him, claiming he had ruined 101
    Dals – but Disney could not have been more wrong! Peregoy hated Disney’s syrupy, traditional style of background art – he was a much more talented and original artist than Disney ever was. In the interview I saw, Peregoy angrily described Disney as a shi*! I have to agree with him – Disney refused to hire female illustrators, telling one woman who showed him her brilliant portfolio, to go home and have babies instead! Appalling!

    • October 8, 2018 12:00 pm

      Spot on Deidre, Disney wasn’t always a well liked man by all accounts. It took bravery to go against what the ‘bossman’ wanted. I admire the fact that he spoke his mind.

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