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UPDATE 1-Disney animation executive Lasseter takes leave after 'missteps' -memo

-memo@ (Adds details on Lasseter)

Nov 21 (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co animation executive John Lasseter told company staff on Tuesday he was taking a six-month leave of absence following what he called "missteps," including unwanted hugs that made employees uncomfortable, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

"It's never easy to face your missteps, but it's the only way to learn from them," Lasseter said in the memo, in which he apologized to employees who felt "disrespected or uncomfortable."

"I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form," he added. "No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected."

Lasseter, an Oscar winner, is chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Disney said in a statement that it appreciated Lasseter's "candor and sincere apology" and supported his leave of absence.

News of Lasseter's decision was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

A pioneer in computer animation, Lasseter has been the driving creative force behind Disney's success in animated films over the past decade.

Lasseter, 60, joined the company in 2006 when Disney bought the acclaimed Pixar Animation Studios and named him chief creative officer of Disney Animation Studios. He has produced a collection of beloved and commercially successful films and been praised as a modern-day Walt Disney.

Lasseter, part of Pixar's founding team in 1996, has overseen movies that have won the Academy Award for best animated feature, including "Up," "Finding Nemo" and "Frozen." (Reporting by Lisa Richwine Editing by Jonathan Oatis)