Russ Edmonds was working as an engineer at the Three-Mile Island nuclear plant when an urge to work at another job overcame him.
A self-taught artist, he wrote Disney Feature Animation inquiring about work in Cartoonland. Disney suggested that he knock on California Institute of the Arts door, which he did. And a few, short years later, he was animating on Brad Bird’s “Family Dog” and getting himself hired at Disney Feature.
Mr. Edmonds’ first assignment at the Mouse House was animating on Oliver and Dodger, the leads in Oliver & Co. Management was so pleased with the work that he found himself working on more four-legged characters.
Through most of the nineties, Russ was one of Disney’s quadruped specialists. He supervised the sheepdog Max in The Little Mermaid, the lioness Sarabi in Lion King, the ape Kala in Tarzan, and an abundance of horses in Home on the Range.
Which isn’t to say that Russ hasn’t done a lot of two-legged characters (Phoebus in Hunchback of Notre Dame) and even no-legged characters (the Genie in the John-and-Ron picture). It’s just that Russ likes and owns horses, and his outside hobby has run over into his professional work.
But it’s good when all your interests conjoin, yes?