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Archives On The Air 5: Carl Stalling—Music Animator

American Heritage Center
Photo of Carl Stalling playing the piano while Disney animators sing along to "Minnie's Yoo Hoo." Standing behind the piano, Walt Disney is second from the left and Ub Iwerks is third from the right, undated. Carl Stalling photo files.

A chance meeting in the 1920s at a Missouri movie theater led to some of the most beloved characters ever created.

Carl Stalling was improvising on the organ playing along with a silent film. A young Walt Disney was in the audience and noticed Stalling’s creative style. After introductions, a mutually beneficial friendship began.

After Disney moved to Hollywood Stalling soon followed and became Walt Disney Studio’s first music director.

Stalling and Disney pioneered cartoon animation that matched the music instead of the other way around. The idea led to Walt Disney’s award-winning Silly Symphonies beginning in 1929.

Stalling next took his talents to Warner Brothers Studios. By 1936, Stalling was scoring music for most of the theatrical animated shorts in the famous Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series.

By the time Stalling retired in 1958 he had scored more than 600 animated films.

To learn more about Carl Stalling, visit UW’s American Heritage Center where you can see Stalling’s original music scores and more.