Frank Thomas, one of Disney’s famed “Nine Old Men” supervising character animators – as well as the piano playing member Ward Kimball’s Fire House Five Plus Two – would have been 100 years old today. Thomas passed away passed away eight years ago on September 8, 2004 at age 92.

Thomas’ remarkable animation included such scenes as the first date and spaghetti dinner in Lady and the Tramp, Thumper teaching Bambi how to ice-skate, Baloo the bear telling the man-cub Mowgli that he can’t stay in the jungle in The Jungle Book, Pinocchio trapped in the birdcage by the evil puppeteer Stromboli, the lovesick squirrel whose heart is broken in The Sword in the Stone, Captain Hook playing the piano in Peter Pan, the dancing penguins in Mary Poppins, among others. He also animated several of Mickey Mouse’s most impressive scenes in such shorts as The Pointer and Brave Little Tailor.

Thomas retired from animation in January 1978, then spent the next five years with his lifelong friend and colleague Ollie Johnston writing the definitive book on their craft, Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, one of the greatest books ever written about animation.

He’s gone now, but will never be forgotten. Let’s take a moment to remember…

Happy Birthday, Frank.

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Jerry Beck

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