Ronald Francis “Ron” Clements (born April 25, 1953) is an American animation director, screenwriter and producer. He often collaborates with fellow director John Musker.
Clements was born in Sioux City, Iowa, the son of Gertrude (née Gereau) and Joseph Clements.
Clements began his career as an animator for Hanna-Barbera. After a few months there, he was accepted into Disney’s Talent Development Program, an animator training ground and workshop. After that, he served a two-year apprenticeship with famed animator Frank Thomas, a supervising animator in classic Disney films such as Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955), and The Aristocats (1970).
Clements made his feature debut as a character animator on The Rescuers and Pete’s Dragon in 1977. In 1981, he became the supervising animator on The Fox and the Hound. Future partner John Musker worked as a character animator under him. Clements later teamed up with Musker as story artists on the ambitious animated flop The Black Cauldron in 1985. In 1986, Clements made his directorial debut alongside Musker and two other collaborators on the feature The Great Mouse Detective. Clements previously made a pre-Disney short based on Sherlock Holmes.
Together, Musker and Clements wrote and directed The Little Mermaid in 1989, a touching retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale. With Oscar-winning songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the film was a huge success, bringing back critical and commercial clout for feature animation. Later on, the two wrote, directed, and produced Aladdin in 1992, which was an even larger success. They also directed Hercules in 1997, which was not as successful as the previous two films but was still profitable.
Their next directorial collaboration would be the sci-fi Treasure Planet (2002), critics reviews were generally positive but it was unfortunately a commercial failure. The film lacked the songs and colorful characters which were crucial to the success of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid although he was nominated an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
However, after Disney’s acquisition of Pixar in early 2006, the studio has rekindled interest towards 2-D animation thanks to new leaders John Lasseter and Edwin Catmull. A new 2-D animated feature, The Princess and the Frog was released in 2009, with Musker and Clements directing and Randy Newman handling the music. The film returns to the Broadway-style musical of Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and other successful Disney animated films of the late ’80s and early ’90s.
In late 2012, the duo announced that they will be directing a new film in the future, but they have their lips sealed for the title, the plot, and the animation style. In July 2013, it was revealed that the film, titled Moana, would be “a Polynesian tale involving the island folk and the idols made famous the world over,” and that it is planned for 2016.