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Phil Roman: 1930—: Animator, Producer, Director

Disney Movie Sparked Interest

Phil Roman was born on December 21, 1930, to Pedro and Ceceña Roman. The son of immigrant grape workers, Roman's first few memories were, according to Latino Success, "going to the vineyards and picking grapes in the hot summer." Although no stranger to hard work, he was always told that he would succeed beyond picking grapes in the vineyard. He remembered his mother constantly stating to Roman and his siblings "You guys are going to get ahead!" That would not be the last time his mother played a pivotal role in the journey that became Roman's life.

In 1942, when Roman was 12 years old, his mother took him to see the animated feature film, Bambi. It was from this moment, that Roman knew what his life's calling would be. Sitting in the dark theater, Roman found himself hypnotized by the characters on the screen. He had seen animation before Bambi but he had never seen characters come to life like Bambi, Thumper, and Flower. He was hooked. From that moment on, animation was Roman's driving force.

After the spark created by Bambi, Roman began drawing. He would copy Bambi onto scraps of paper. His love of drawing continued on through high school, where Roman gained the courage to ask a nun running the school newspaper if he could draw for the paper. She agreed. Roman stated this instance as one of the influences in his life as an animator. Such events, he stated in an interview with Contemporary Hispanic Biography (CHB), gave him "more impetus and belief" in himself.

During high school, Roman also took correspondence art courses. This was one of the few ways young people, growing up in small towns like Fresno, could gain an arts education. One of his courses was taught by a gifted artist everyone called Sparky. Sparky's real name was Charles Schulz. In an interview with CHB, Roman stated that this was one of "those strange twists of life," as he would later go on to work with Schulz on the Charlie Brown cartoons. After graduation, Roman knew that he had to go to Los Angeles if he was to make it in the animation business. Having only $60 to his name, he boarded a bus to Los Angeles with a letter of introduction from the manager of the Fresno theater in which he worked.

At a Glance . . .

Born Philip Roman on December 21, 1930, in Fresno, CA; married Anita in 1970. Education: Hollywood Art Center School. Military Service: US Air Force.

Career: Animator, 1955–; director, 1970s–; producer, 1984–; Film Roman Inc., founder, 1984–, CEO, 1984-97, creative director, 1997-99; Phil Roman Entertainment, founder/CEO, 1999–.

Awards: Emmy Award, for Garfield in the Rough, 1984; Emmy Award, for Garfield's Halloween Adventure, 1985; Emmy Award, for Garfield Babes & Bullets, 1989; Movieguide Award, for Tom and Jerry: The Movie, 1993; Entrepreneur of the Year, Entertainment Category, 1995; Film Roman company named one of the 500 Most Successful Hispanic-owned Businesses, 1996; International TV Programming Award, 1996; Three Emmy Awards, for The Simpsons; Children's Advocacy Award, 1997; Hispanic Public Relations Association Permio Award, 1997; Trailblazer Award, 1999; Lifetime Achievement Award, given by Imagen Foundation, 1999; Lifetime Achievement Award, Entertainment Graphics Organization, 2001; Lifetime Achievement Award, Nosotros Foundation, 2001; Media Aztec Award, Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, 2002; Latino Legacy in Hollywood Award, Screen Actor's Guild, 2003.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyPhil Roman: 1930—: Animator, Producer, Director Biography - Disney Movie Sparked Interest, Dissatisfied At Disney, Animated Commercials And Cartoons, Founded Own Company