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Ollie Johnston (1912-2008) [Updated]

The last of Disney’s Nine Old Men has sadly passed away. Ollie Johnston was a directing animator at Disney from 1935-1978 and worked on such great films as Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Bambi and Pinocchio. Ollie also co-authored the very popular book, The Illusion of Life with his long-time friend, Frank Thomas (who passed away in 2004). 

Ollie’s lifelong hobby was steam trains. He built and aquired many in his life including a full-size narrow-gauge Porter steam locomotive, which he named the "Marie E." This was eventually sold to John Lasseter  and is fully operational.
On November 10, 2005, Ollie was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W. Bush in an Oval Office ceremony.
Ollie was a big influence to many, many artists in the animation industry, including John Lasseter and Brad Bird. Brad Bird gave Frank and Ollie a cameo appearance in The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. The two can be remembered in the film for the lines:

Frank Thomas: Ya see that? That’s the way to do it. That’s old school. 

Ollie Johnston: Yeah. No school like the old school. 

Thomas: Right.

RIP Ollie. You will be sorely missed.

UPDATE: Brad Bird speaks out on Ollie over at Cartoon Brew.

0 Responses to Ollie Johnston (1912-2008) [Updated]

  1. Mitch says:

    Mr. Johnston, both you and your life-long partner and colleage, Frank Thomas, were an inspiration to my family and myself for many decades and you will continue to be for an infinite number of years afterward….

    I thank you immensely for contributing to a part of the soul of Disney Studios in its golden era — they were years which did not go unnoticed or unappreciated by many an individual.

    Thank you, Mr. Johnston, and rest in peace.

    — Mitch

  2. CountSolo says:

    It’s hard to imagine how animation would have evolved had it not been for the profound contributions of Mr. Johnston and the rest of the Nine Old Men.

    To a great animator and human being, may you rest in peace, sir.

  3. RIP Ollie. This is truly a significant day in animation history. Ollie and the other eight “old men” (along with Walt) are the reason why we’re here celebrating Pixar. They shaped the industry, but as Brad says in his piece of writing
    about Ollie’s death:
    “I plan on visiting him as I visit Milt, Eric, Frank and all the others who taught and/or inspired me…through their work.. which will be around forever.”

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