Seaman Si by Perce Pearce

Information on Perce Pearce (1899-1955) is scarce. It is only quite recently that I have managed to piece together details of his career thanks to information from a couple of Disney websites. If you click on the Label ‘Perce Pearce’ you will see my recent posts about his life.

Pearce had worked for Walt Disney since 1935 and was sequence director on his first feature length animated cartoon Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937. He was said to have been the ‘model’ for Doc. But according to some sources there was a love/hate relationship between Pearce and Disney.

After working at Burbank, Pearce was sent to England to produce the first Disney live-action movies Treasure Island (1950) The Story of Robin Hood (1952) The Sword and the Rose (1953) and Rob Roy the Highland Rogue (1953).

But before all this, Perce Pearce had worked as a cartoonist. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago and his first published work was a series of cartoons for the Great Lakes Bulletin, a military newspaper serving the US Naval Training Centre at Great Lakes, Illinois.

Pearce’s popular cartoon series was named after its hero, Seaman Si The funniest "Gob" in the Navy and the humorous adventures of a Blue Jacket on the High Seas of Fun and Trouble. (See the images above.)

The series ran in the paper and was collected into a soft-cover edition in 1917, and reprinted in book form in 1918. At the same time, Pearce did editorial cartoons and political caricatures for his news agency, some of which appeared in the New York Evening Post, and were later included in a 1917 article in Cartoons Magazine called "Under the Big Dome" by Elisha Hanson (v. 11, no. 4, Apr. 1917).

In late 1919 Pearce left his original position to work directly for a Denver newspaper as a cartoonist. He took a room in the house of John Cory, who was also a cartoonist for the same paper, along with a third cartoonist, Charles Cahn.

During the 1920’s he moved to Hollywood where popular legend says he met another young cartoonist on a pier at Santa Monica. Yes you guessed it-his name was ......................Walt Disney!

If you have any more information on the life of Perce Pearce please get in touch at


Clement Glen said...

Perce Pearce (1899-1955)
"Seaman Si"
Walt Disney

Neil said...

Perce Pearce is something of an enigma. Little information seems to be available although Clement has done extremely well on this blog. Perce Pearce stayed in England and lived on a country estate until his death in 1955 - so he did not live that long after the release of the last film he was involved with - Rob Roy The Highland Rogue. Walt Disney must have had great confidence in him because he was given the responsibility of producing his first live action films - all made in England including the one we all know. He did well with them and they all made money apparently and took Disney into a different field. Wonder if he died in England. We will all have to search even harder to find out more.

Clement Glen said...

Considering Disney and Pearce had their ups and downs, maybe this might explain why the latter was shipped off to England to produce his live-action movies.

Also it could be the reasom why Pearce gets very little mention in the current Disney literature.

Nicky said...

Was there a connection between Roy Disney and Perce? Both were stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station.

Deborah in Berkeley, CA said...

I found your blog while researching a small chalkware figure I found several years ago. It's a caricature of an Indian called John Joyface. It's signed c 1927 Pence Pearce. I've searched before and never put it together, but it's really obvious that he made it. It's a really cool object that I found on a cross country trip. I thought it was so strange and amazing I knew whomever had made it must have been well known at the time. But until now, I never figured it out. I'd love to send you some photos of the guy if you want to let me know how.