School of Art

Contact Details

School of Art
Aberystwyth University
Buarth Mawr
SY23 1NG

Tel: +44 (0)1970 622460

Fax: +44 (0)1970 622461


Display artist/maker:

Willis O'Brien

Born: 1886, USA, California, Oakland   Died: 1962, USA, California, Los Angeles

Animator, sculptor and cartoonist. A self-taught sculptor and drawer with natural talent, O'Brien earned himself jobs as an architect's draftsman and a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Daily News. His first proper attempt at stop-motion animation - a 90-second clip created with the aid of a local newsreel cameraman - caught the eye of an exhibitor at the 1915 San Francisco World's Fair exhibitor, Herman Wobber. Wobber commissioned O'Brien's first film on a budget of $5000, titled 'The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy' (1915). O'Brien went on to work on a series of short films for the Edison Company and later on the Herbert M. Dawley film 'The Ghost of Slumber Mountain' (1918). Despite the breakdown of the collaboration (Dawley slashed the film's length from 45 minutes to just 11, and claimed credit for O'Brien's work) the film still earned O'Brien a spot on the team for Harry O. Hoyt's 'The Lost World' (1925). His success continued and he is now most well-known for his work on RKO's 'King Kong' (1933) and 'Mighty Joe Young' (1949).

Objects in the collections associated with this artist/maker

The [Show] Joe Must Go On WD1105 WaterColourOrDrawings