Who Are The Oldest Living Animation Artists?

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 99th birthday party of animator Willis Pyle. Pyle has had a cartoon career for the ages. On Pinocchio, he cleaned up Milt Kahl’s scene of Jiminy Cricket getting dressed while running to work. He was a key animator during the early days of UPA and animated on the studio’s first theatrical short for Columbia, Robin Hoodlum, as well as the first Mister Magoo short Ragtime Bear. In the classic UPA film Gerald McBoing Boing, Pyle animated the climactic scene of Gerald performing sound effects at the radio station.

I’m incredibly grateful that we still have living links to the Golden Age of animation like Willy, and attending his party made me wonder who else is still around. The list below is every animation industry veteran I can think of who is 85 years or older. I’m sure there are plenty of others too, and I invite you to help fill out the list. The growth and development of our art form owes much to these men and women.

  • Kaj Pindal – 85 years old

  • Yoji Kuri – 85 years old

  • Bob Singer – 85 years old (?)

  • Bob Balser – 86 years old

  • Dean Spille – 86 years old

  • Rudy Cataldi – 86 years old

  • Sam Clayberger – 87 years old

  • Stan Freberg – 87 years old

  • Ken Mundie – 87 years old (?)

  • Walt Peregoy – 88 years old (?)

  • Ray Favata – 89 years old

  • Arthur Rankin, Jr. – 89 years old

  • Gene Deitch – 89 years old

  • Frédéric Back – 89 years old

  • Janet Waldo – 89 years old(?)

  • John Stephenson – 90 years old

  • Jim Fekete (far left) – 90 years old

  • Joe Siracusa – 91 years old

  • Charles Csuri – 91 years old

  • Vera Linnecar – 91 years old(?)

  • Borge Ring – 92 years old

  • David Weidman – 92 years old (?)

  • Harold Whitaker – 93 years old

  • June Patterson – 93 years old


  • X. Atencio (pictured right) – 94 years old

  • Eddie Lawrence – 94 years old

  • Al Pabian – 95 years old

  • Blaine Gibson – 95 years old

  • June Foray – 95 years old

  • Bob Givens – 95 years old

  • Alice Provensen (right) – 95 years old

  • Martha Sigall – 96 years old

  • Auril Thompson – 96 years old

  • Hal Geer – 97 years old(?)

  • Willis Pyle – 99 years old

  • Don Lusk – 99 years old

  • Milton Quon – 100 years old

  • Tyrus Wong – 102 years old

  • Ruthie Thompson – 103 years old


  • Paolo Polesello

    hadn’t they passed away last year, Fyodor Khitruk (1917-2012) and Bretislav Pojar (1923-2012) would have been in the list

  • Mapache

    June Foray is almost a hundred years old and she’s still recording, repising her roles as the Granny in the New Looney Tunes Show and Magica deSpell in the Remastered version of the Duck Tales video game.

    She makes me feel a little bit more comfortable with the idea of getting old.

    • Tim

      I didn’t realize till I rewatched it last week that June was also the voice of Mulan’s grandmother. Granted, that was almost 20 years ago, but still!

      • Munroe H

        June Foray has the biggest laugh line in “Mulan,” as well. Just watch that film with a paying audience.

  • AmidAmidi

    Thanks for the correction, Adrian. It’s fixed now.

  • Jacob

    Apparently Stan Spohn passed away last October.

  • Kartoonz Kritik

    Milton Quon is another at 100 years old. Milton began at the Walt Disney Studios working as an inbetweener on Fantasia, and later worked as a first assistant animator on Dumbo.
    https://d23.com/happy-100th-birthday-to-disney-animator-milton-quon/

  • Silver Baritone

    Gerard Baldwin is 84 if I’m correct. Think he should have had a mention.

    • AmidAmidi

      There are numerous animation veterans who are 84 years old or under. Arbitrary or not, this list is for artists who are currently 85 or older.

      • jordan reichek

        yeah, screw those ‘youngsters’! let ‘em EARN their keep!

  • Steven

    Also, Milton Quon, an inbetweener on Fantasia and animator on Dumbo, turned 100 last month. https://d23.com/happy-100th-birthday-to-disney-animator-milton-quon/

  • Torsten Adair

    Well, if one includes voice actors with multiple credits, then Stan Lee gets a nod. Also, he headed up Marvel Animation in the 1980s, after he moved to the West Coast.

    Also Lou Scheimer of Filmation (who also composed and voiced).

    • AmidAmidi

      Scheimer is 84 years old. Yes, Stan Lee is a valid suggestion, but I want to keep the focus on artists who worked in the animation industry.

    • Munroe H

      Mr. Scheimer is still under the age of 85. Amid qualified ‘oldest living’ by starting the classification with that age.

  • James G.

    I believe Ruthie Thompson (https://d23.com/ruthie-tompson/) is still with us, which makes her 103, I believe.

  • Honest_Miss

    So what you’re saying is being an animator is the key to long life…

  • Janet perlman

    The amazing Borge Ring! I think he is 92.

  • Floyd Norman

    Though he retired as a Disney Imagineer, Blaine Gibson was a darn good Disney animator. He still lives in my home town of Santa Barbara and he’s in his nineties.

    • Munroe H

      Among many other very good things, Blaine Gibson animated those great little walk cycles featuring people who resemble their dogs near the beginning of Disney’s original “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.”

  • AmidAmidi

    Thanks to everone for the helpful input! Unfortunately, I had to remove Stan Spohn because he passed away last year, but we’ve added Ruthie Thompson (103), Milton Quon (100), Blaine Gibson (95), and Borge Ring (92).

    • guest

      You posted about June Patterson when she was interviewed earlier this year — she
      was a cel painter at Disney, and her cousin Les Clark (Nine Old Men),
      her husband-to-be Ray Patterson (Tom and Jerry), and her mom
      (accounting?) all worked at Disney too. One of the first stories she
      told was about how once she was left momentarily in charge of the studio
      entrance and was told to make everyone sign in and sign out, and it was a
      dark and rainy night… and she made Walt Disney sign out. Pretty
      funny, Walt kept looking at her without saying anything, she persisted,
      and he signed. Three interview youtubes about 10 min ea were posted in
      March, and I see there’s now an audio of the full interview up on The Corner Booth website
      that’s about 1-1/2 hours long. Remembering … she worked on Pinocchio
      and told another story about accidentally painting on the wrong side of
      all the cels in one sequence — impossible to redo, horrible mistake! –
      and they kept it and added rain to obscure it. She sounds wonderful. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

      http://www.cartoonbrew.com/animators/93-year-old-cel-painter-june-patterson-talks-about-the-disney-classics-79303.html

      http://www.thecornerbooth.net/2013/08/26/tcb-podcast6-interview-with-june-patterson

  • Danny

    Here’s some more to add:
    June Walker Patterson (inker and widow of MGM animator Ray Patterson) b. 1920 93 years old
    Al Pabian (Peanuts animator) b. 1918 95 years old
    Joe Siracusa (Warners music and editor) b. 1922 90-91 years old
    Hal Geer (Warner Bros Producer c. 1960s) b. 1916 96 years old
    Eddie Lawrence (Paramount Voice artist) b. 1919 94 years old
    Janet Waldo (voice of Judy Jetson and Penelope Pitstop) b. 1918 or 1924 89 or 95 years old

  • Bob Sigall

    Marth Sigall, my mom, is 96. But she’d be ok with you saying 39.

  • Bob Sigall

    Auril Thompson is 96. She worked at Schlesinger’s starting in 1939 or 1940.

  • Jez Stewart

    From the UK, Harold Whitaker is 93 and thankfully still with us. He began his career at the Anson Dyer Studios in 1940 before moving onto Halas & Batchelor at the time of the production of Animal Farm and remained there as Head of Animation for many years.

    Also Vera Linnecar began animating at Halas & Batchelor in 1940, before moving on to the Larkins Studio, then Pearl and Dean with Dave Hilberman, and then worked at Biographic Studios, initially with Bob Godfrey, into the mid 80s. She is still alive and well and great company, but i have always been too polite to ask her age, but she must have been born around 1922 putting her in the mix.

  • Danny

    Arthur Rankin Jr. (Co founder of Rankin Bass) b. 1924 89 years old

  • AmidAmidi

    Thank you to Adrian C, Danny, Jez Stewart, Bob Sigall, and everyone else who has contributed. Our list of animation industry veterans over the age of 85 has nearly doubled since this was first posted. Long live animation folk!

  • rawlph

    As far as I know, Kaj Pindal is still alive and teaching at Sheridan College. He’d be 86

  • Bob Harper

    Not sure if Bob Singer has turned 85 yet.

  • Danny

    Here’s one more name: Frederic Back b. 1924 89 years old

  • skippy

    does anyone know if UPA veteran Fred Crippen is still with us? (I hope he is)

  • WN

    How about Alice Provenson….

    • AmidAmidi

      Wow, thanks for pointing her out. No idea the amazing Ms. Provensen was still around!

  • AmidAmidi

    The list is 85 and above. But Jimmy M. is amazing!