Ollie Johnston 1912-2008


The end of an era.

The last of the Nine Old Men, Ollie Johnston, passed away today in Sequim, Washington at the age of 95. Jenny Lerew confirms it.

UPDATE (5:18pm): Brad Bird, the Oscar-winning director of Ratatouille and The Incredibles, remembers Ollie Johnston.

UPDATE (5:05pm): A fun Ollie-related image I found in my files. It’s a drawing by Ward Kimball of the 1-D animation unit at Disney. Left to right: Ward Kimball, Clarke Mallery, Ollie Johnston, Mary Schuster and Al Bertino.

Ollie Johnston by Ward Kimball

UPDATE (3:50pm): More good tributes to Ollie from:
Floyd Norman
Michael Barrier
Will Finn
Steve Hulett
Emru Townsend

UPDATE (12:20pm): The official statement from the Walt Disney Company about Johnston’s passing.

UPDATE (9:00am): Oscar-winning animator, animation historian and author of Disney’s Nine Old Men, John Canemaker, remembers Ollie Johnston.

UPDATE (5:42am): This morning, Hans Perk posted a brief video he took of Ollie Johnston on July 20, 2005. In it, Johnston eloquently explains the importance of creating believable animated characters that resonate with audiences. Hans also has some great Ollie-related posts on his blog here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE (4:54am): Tributes to Johnston, from people who knew him personally and others who simply admired his work, are appearing throughout the online community. Here are some of the better ones:
Pete Emslie
Rhett Wickham
Michael J. Ruocco
Floyd Bishop
Kate and Terry
Frank Dormer

UPDATE (10:17pm): A terrific video below in which Glen Keane examines the drawings and animation style of Ollie Johnston. Also be sure to see the three-part Disney “Family Album” documentary about Ollie.

UPDATE (9:35 pm): Howard Green sent us this quote from Roy Disney…

“Ollie was part of an amazing generation of artists, one of the real pioneers of our art, one of the major participants in the blossoming of animation into the art form we know today. One of Ollie’s strongest beliefs was that his characters should think first, then act…and they all did. He brought warmth and wit and sly humor and a wonderful gentleness to every character he animated. He brought all those same qualities to his life, and to all of our lives who knew him. We will miss him greatly, but we were all enormously enriched by him.”

UPDATE: Here are handy lists of all the characters that Ollie animated in the Disney features and shorts.

UPDATE: There are a couple of interviews with Ollie alone and a few of him and Frank, posted on the Disney Family Museum website, well worth reading.

UPDATE: Rebekah Mosely informs us that the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society has a previously planned event on Sunday May 18th at 2pm to dedicate Ollie Johnston’s Train Station at Griffith Park in LA. Their calendar and organization contact information can be found here.

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