Alvarado was born in Raton, New Mexico, and grew up in Glendale, California. He attended the Chouinard Art Institute in the 1930s; after graduation, he was hired as an assistant animator by the Walt Disney Studio. He provided uncredited work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Around 1939, Alvarado left Disney to find work in New York City, where he provided his earliest comic book art for Funnies Inc., which supplied artwork for Fawcett Publications and Timely Comics (now Marvel Comics).
Alvarado went on to draw the Gene Autry newspaper strip and comic book, the Mr. Magoo newspaper strip for its entire run, a long period of the Little Lulu newspaper strip, some work on the Flintstones and Yogi Bear newspaper strip, and fill-in work for almost all the Disney newspaper strips, including an extended period as the main artist on Donald Duck.
The bulk of Alvarado's work at Western was for their "funny animal" line of comic books. Alvarado provided artwork for almost every Disney (Chip and Dale, Scamp), Warner Bros. (Tweety & Sylvester, Road Runner), Hanna-Barbera (Yogi Bear) and Walter Lantz (Andy Panda) licensed title. He also illustrated comic book adaptations of the animated films The Rescuers, Robin Hood, and Gay Purr-ee.
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