An animation veteran while still relatively young, Trousdale took a slightly less direct route to glory in the Disney animation department than some of his contemporaries. Nonetheless, he would go on to co-direct "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), a landmark in the history of the medium. A product of the innovative character animation program at the Disney-sponsored California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Trousdale found full-time work as an animator while in his third year. However, unlike such fellow alumni as John Lasseter ("Toy Story") and Henry Selick ("James and the Giant Peach"), he did not go directly to Disney. Instead, Trousdale spent a year at Carter/Mendez Productions where he animated, designed and storyboarded various TV projects including "Stanley, The Ugly Duckling" (ABC, 1982), a presentation of the "ABC Weekend Specials". Trousdale next worked for Grand American Fare, doing illustrations and paste-ups for restaurant menus, special event flyers and tee shirts. Trousdale's fortunes began to change when he was hired by Disney.