Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Hand began his animation career working on the Out of the Inkwell cartoons throughout the 1920s. He joined the Disney studio in 1930, during a major drive by Disney to recruit from the cream of animating talent. Hand immediately made his mark as an animator, contributing to mostly to Silly Symphonies such as Midnight in a Toyshop, The China Plate, and Egyptian Melodies.
By 1932 he was regarded as one of Disney's top animators (despite some complaints that his work was "too mechanical"). as well as having become a close friend of Walt Disney. Hand's organizational skills made Disney select him to be the studio's third director after Burt Gillett and Wilfred Jackson. He made his directorial debut for the company with the Mickey Mouse short Building a Building and went on to direct both Silly Symphonies and Mickey Mouse shorts, including The Flying Mouse, Who Killed Cock Robin?, Three Orphan Kittens, and Thru the Mirror. By the late 1930s Hand's management skills had allowed him to ascend in the hierarchy of the Studio to functioning as Disney's right-hand man. But as historian Michael Barrier notes "Hand's position was fundamentally untenable—he was second in command in an organization whose leader, younger than Hand himself, had no intention of ever stepping aside or sharing real power."
Gaumont British Animation
After leaving Disney in 1944, Hand went to England and for J. Arthur Rank established Gaumont British Animation at Moor Hall in 1946 to produce the Animaland (9) and Musical Paintbox (10) cartoon series. In 1994 Hand was inducted into the Disney Legends program.
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