You may not know his name, but you are certainly familiar with his work. Josh Meador was the visual effects supervisor for some of Walt Disney’s most memorable films including Bambi, Fantasia, Cinderella and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. So why am I blogging about him? Well, it turns out he was from my hometown.
In 1911, he was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, but then moved to Columbus when he was seven years old. Apparently, he even took drawing courses at my university (MUW) long before it started admitting men. He went on to attend The Chicago Arts Institute and graduated in 1935 with honors. A year later he went to work for Walt Disney.
Josh Meador at work. Supervising visual effects at Disney was his day job. His real passion was painting.
Like most people in Columbus, I had never heard of him before. However, the Lowndes County Public Library held an exhibition of his paintings, and I even got to hear his son speak about his work. Little did I know that Meador was responsible for one of my favorite scenes of all time. Since I was a child, I’ve been captivated by the magical bubble scene in Cinderella. It’s the one where she is washing the floors on her hands and knees while singing “Sing Sweet Nightingale.” As she dips her rag into the bucket of soapy water, bubbles of every color rise into the air. Within each bubble is a reflection of Cinderella singing a harmony part until a whole choir forms. To capture such a scene, Meador had his wife blow bubbles over and over again to sketch every single detail of a bubble floating in mid-air.
In case you don’t remember the scene, I’ve included it below:
Sure, Walt probably came up with the singing bubbles bit, but without Meador, he wouldn’t have been able to execute it properly. And who knows? Cinematic gems like Cinderella and Fantasia might have flopped if Meador had not been hired by Disney. Something to ponder indeed.