Ollie Johnston

Ollie Johnston (actually Oliver Martin Johnston, Jr., born October 31, 1912 in Palo Alto, California, † April 14, 2008 in Sequim, Washington State ) was an American animator. He was the last surviving member of Disney 's Nine Old Men, a group of signatories that have shaped the artistic style of Disney cartoons and feature films since the mid- 1930s.


Johnston was born in Palo Alto. His father was a high school teacher of Romance languages ​​at Stanford University, where Ollie first the Grammar School attended and later returned to studying art. In 1931, he met at Stanford Frank Thomas, with whom he worked on drawings for the campus newspaper. It began a close friendship that would last more than 70 years. Johnston and Thomas joined both her ​​studies at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles from where they were taught by the renowned illustrator Pruett Carter.

After graduation, Johnston originally wanted to be an illustrator for magazines, but he was convinced by Frank Thomas to start as an animator at Walt Disney Studios. Johnston began his training at Disney on January 21, 1935 and served as inbetweener on such films as the Oscar-winning Silly Symphonies cartoon - The Tortoise and the Hare with. He became an assistant to Fred Moore, with whom he also worked at Disney's first feature-length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Moore was responsible for the design of the dwarves, and oversaw not only Johnston's work, but also by Frank Thomas, who had meanwhile risen to Character Animator. 1942, Johnston and Thomas jointly responsible as supervising animator for the design of the young Bambi in the eponymous film. Four years later, Johnston was in the animated sequences of Uncle Remus' Wonderland first chief draftsman.

Until his retirement in 1978, Ollie Johnston was involved in all the films of the Disney Animation Studios. He often worked with Frank Thomas together, the team became known as the Disney employees as " Frank and Ollie " and was named one of Walt Disney jokingly to the Nine Old Men of the studio. Johnston was considered a specialist in emotional scenes, his best known characters include Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Susi in Lady and the Tramp, the and three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959 ), Baloo the Bear in The Jungle Book (1967) and the main characters in Bernard Bianca - The Rescuers. Frank and Ollie's last film was Fox and the Hound, in 1978 they went into retirement.

Even after the end of their professional career at Disney working Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas continues on joint projects. Together they wrote the 1981 published book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, which is considered a standard work on the techniques of the classic animated film today. There were other book publications, including contributions to The Sketch Book Series on the origins of individual Disney movies.

1980 were honored at the award ceremony of the Annie Awards from the International Association of animation filmmakers Asifa with the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. 1989 drew the Walt Disney Company, the Nine Old Men from the honorary title Disney Legends. 2005, one year after Frank's death, Ollie Johnston received by U.S. President George W. Bush, the National Medal of Arts.

Frank and Ollie were honored by other filmmakers. In Bernard and Bianca - The Rescuers, Johnston's last film as chief draftsman, the cat Rufus was designed by Johnston. The villain of the Mickey Mouse Cartoons Mickey Monster Mouse ( Runaway Brain ) from 1995 was called " Dr. Franken Ollie ". That same year Frank's son Theodore Thomas documentation Frank and Ollie. Director Brad Bird and Thomas Johnston was guest-starred in the animated film The Iron Giant in 1999, and eventually let both also Herself The Incredibles in the computer animated film - The Incredibles occur. There they philosophize at the end of the film about the " old school " ( No school like the old school ), which classically drawn cartoons are meant.

Ollie Johnston was from 1943 until her death in 2005, Marie Worthey, who had also worked as an illustrator for Disney, married. Johnston was known as a collector of model trains, his passion inspired Walt Disney to build a railroad as an attraction at Disneyland.

Johnston died the last of the Nine Old Men in a nursing home on 14 April 2008 of old age.

Filmography (selection)

Short Films


Stations ( with Frank Thomas )

  • The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. Abbeville Press, New York 1981, ISBN 0-89659-232-4, ( reprint: Hyperion, New York 1995, ISBN 0-7868-6070-7 ).
  • Too Funny for Words: Disney's Greatest Sight Gags. Abbeville Press, New York, 1987, ISBN 0-89659-747-4.
  • Walt Disney's Bambi: The Story and the Film. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, 1990, ISBN 1-55670-160-8.
  • The Disney Villain. Hyperion, New York 1993, ISBN 1-56282-792-8.