Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Our loss, Heaven's gain

Rufus from "The Rescuers"
What would Ollie Johnston look like if he were a cat?

Disney's nine old men have been reunited in the great animation studio up yonder with the passing of Ollie Johnston (October 31, 1912 - April 14, 2008). Ollie was an animator, steam locomotive enthusiast, family man married for 62 years to Marie and father of two sons, and mentor and inspiration to today's animators.

Ollie Johnston started working as an apprentice animator for Disney in 1935. "Mickey's Garden" and other shorts started off his career as a master communicator through the art of animation. Generations delight in Ollie's contributions to "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Fantasia", "Pinocchio", "Bambi", "Sleeping Beauty", "Cinderella", "Lady and the Tramp", "Peter Pan", "The Rescuers" and other favourite films.

Ollie and his lifelong friend and work partner Frank Thomas (1912 - 2004) not only collaborated on film, but as authors: "Too Funny for Words", "The Disney Villain", Walt Disney's Bambi - the Story and the Film", "Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life".

Frank Thomas (1912 - 2004) had said that it was Ollie who brought warmth and emotion to cartoons. Ollie believed that animated characters should exhibit emotional qualities. That Ollie Johnston was successful in achieving that aim is more than evident when watching Baloo and Mowgli in "The Jungle Book", little Thumper in "Bambi", the jaunty "Johnny Appleseed" or sentimental Mr. Smee in "Peter Pan" among others. When recalling the characters he created Ollie said "They were all good friends whom I remember fondly". They are good friends to us all and we will remember them and Ollie Johnston fondly.

Disney's nine old men: Les Clark (1907 - 1979), Ollie Johnston (1912 - 2008), Frank Thomas (1912 - 2004), Wolfgang Reitherman (1909 - 1985), John Lounsbery (1911 - 1976), Eric Larson (1905 - 1988), Ward Kimball (1914 - 2002), Milt Kahl (1909 - 1987), Marc Davis (1913 - 2000).


  1. It was you and your buddies who delighted and scared me for decades. Oh, by gosh, by golly, thank you Mr. Ollie!

  2. Of course he loved trains. Of course he did.



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