Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ollie Johnston, last of Disney's Nine Old Men, has passed away

This is the second post in a row that I've had to make about the death of someone. I hope this won't be a trend :-(

Now word is coming out that Ollie Johnston, legendary animator and the last surviving member of the Nine Old Men - Walt Disney's stable of talent that created most of the company's best-known films and made Disney an enduring entertainment powerhouse - has passed away at 96.

Remember Thumper in Bambi going on about eating his vegetables? That was Ollie Johnston. Remember Baloo dancing with Mowgli in The Jungle Book? That was Ollie Johnston, too.

And Lady and Tramp eating spaghetti? Yup, Ollie Johnston's handiwork. The guy knew how to make pencil-drawn characters connect with each other. It's one of the things that makes a Disney movie, a Disney movie. And Johnston along with the rest of the Nine Old Men (who weren't old at all, they were in their thirties and forties but Walt Disney thought of them as his own private Supreme Court at the time) found how to make it work.

He worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Cinderella, and many more. His last animated work was for The Rescuers and he did a bit for The Fox and the Hound, too.

And I'm really sad today, because we've already had John A. Wheeler leave us, and now Ollie Johnston. Two great men of their time, who in their own way each made contributions for all time, to all the generations that will follow.

There is immortality, my friends.

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