Time runs out for Mickey Mouse watch designer

If you didn’t have one you knew someone that did. That something is a Mickey Mouse watch.mouse watch

Growing up I knew quite a few people who had one. It wasn’t just for kids. I did know an adult or two that hand one.

 Learning to tell time you would say,  “ Mickey’s big hand is on the 3 and the small one is on the 8.”

 The  person who design the first Mickey Mouse watch for grownups, Disney Imagineer Ralph Kent has taken his Final Taxi.. He was 68.

 In 1965, he designed the first limited-edition Mickey Mouse watch for adults, which Walt Disney presented to 25 of his top executives. Word quickly spread, and today, more than 100 adult watch designs are manufactured each year.

 Kent was a designer and teacher at the Walt Disney Company for 41 years.

 Born Ralph Kwiatkowski on January 28, 1939, he grew up in New York, where he fell “hopefully” under the spell of Disney animated motion pictures, particularly Pinocchio, because he identified with the puppet’s sense of awe, wonder, and magic.

 By age 10, he transformed the basement walls of his home into a giant mural of Disney characters ranging from Alice in Wonderland to Cinderella. Fixated on working for Disney, he decided to send a letter to Walt Disney, and received a courteous reply.

 Kent attended the University of Buffalo Albright Art School. In 1960, he joined the United States Army, illustrating military training aids and films.

 In 1963, his dream came true when, following his military discharge, he began working at Disneyland as a marketing production artist. He was hired to develop marketing materials for the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room and more. He worked with fellow Disney Legends Van Arsdale France and Dick Nunis, creators of Disney University, developing training materials for the company’s four attractions featured at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, including “It’s A Small World.”

 In 1971, he arrived at Walt Disney World, where he became a design leader and instructor for Walt Disney Imagineering. He designed souvenirs such as license plates, bumper stickers, and more for Disney World. How many people do you know who had bought one of those throughout the years?

 He was “an incredible individual” whose legacy will continue not just from his own designs, but from the designers whom he trained, said independent Disney author Lou Mongello, host of the WDW radio show podcast (wdwradio.com).

“Ralph was a dear friend to us, and an amazing artist,” said The Magical Mountain, a hobbyist/enthusiast Web site for Disney fans.
“More importantly, he was a fantastic person. He was always ready with a warm smile and his quick wit. He impacted so many lives positively, and his legacy will continue to do the same.”


4 Responses

  1. Wonderful, Wonderful Post. Thank you.

  2. Ralph was my brother -in-law. We spent many hours listening to his Disney stories. He drew countless Mickeys, Donalds, etc., for children young and old on napkins paper plates, on anything handy, one of which is framed and hanging on the wall in my daughter’s room. But, he was more than his art. His art was also in his life as a husband, father and friend. Our lives are a little emptier and we will laugh a little less now without him. We will always carry a little of him, as well as a little of Mickey in our hearts.

  3. I just read about Ralph’s passing. He a great man
    and wonderful to work for at Disneyland and Disney world. He Hired me in 1967. I worked
    for Ralph at Disneyland and Disneyworld .Working for him was more than a job. He was the best Art director I ever worked for. More than
    that he was wonderful human being. .I am very sad to read of his passing.. Good bless you Ralph.

    Bill Barry

  4. I have a picture of mickey mouse with an autograph by Ralph Kent, on the back of a menu. Could it be worth anything?

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