Joe Grant was supposed to have created the character Lady in 1937 along with her owners, Joe and Jennie, while Ward Greene created Tramp in a completely different story, both of which were combined by Walt Disney in the late 1940's-early 1950's into "Lady and the Tramp." Link
Joe Grant passed away last Friday leaving a world that he's made better for having been in. And what a life it has been to be part of so many countless millions of people's childhood memories, whether they realize it or not. Below is Pete Doctor's email to the Pixar community:
I'm very sad to report that Joe Grant died yesterday afternoon, just a week shy of his 97th birthday.
Though quick to say he wasn't an animator, Joe did just about everything else. After a successful career as a caricature artist and illustrator for Hearst (his work was recently exhibited at the Smithsonian), Joe began work at the Disney studio in 1933. Joe became head of the development department, and was second only to Walt in his influence over all projects at the studio at that time. A small sampling of Joe's amazing accomplishments include: designing the wicked witch in "Snow White", writing and developing the story of "Dumbo", selecting music and overseeing segments for "Fantasia," and developing the concept of "Lady and the Tramp," patterning the lead character after his own dog "Lady."
Joe left the studio in 1949 to pursue his own interests (he designed several lines of incredibly clever greeting cards and some amazing ceramic tiles) but returned to Disney in the late 1980's where he continued to work up until the day before he died.
I was lucky enough to get to know Joe and hear some amazing stories about the formative days of our medium. But Joe was no historic relic. He drew every day. He pitched new concepts for films. He even sat in on gag sessions for our films, and would often mail me drawings and concepts (it was Joe who came up with the title, "Monsters, Inc."). After more than seven decades of working in the medium, Joe was always full of enthusiasm for what would come next.
Joe literally kept drawing until he died. In so many different ways, Joe was an inspiration. I will miss him very much.
Cartoon Brew remembers Joe
Laughing Place remembers Joe
Interview with Joe by Mike Lyons for AWN, 1999.
Jim Hill Media remembers Joe
Animation Nation thread with people posting their remembrances of Joe.