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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Passing of a Legendary Artist

Sadly, the last of the original 9 Disney animators past away on Monday. Ollie Johnston was 95 and past away of natural causes.

Ollie was the man who created both Bambi and Pinocchio, among many more favorite Disney characters. He was part of a generation of artists that changed the way we look at animation and films in general. The original 9 or "The Nine Old Men" as Walt Disney himself described them, were true pioneers of their field as they crafted and created the original full length feature Disney motion pictures.

Johnston and fellow artist, Frank Thomas were the elite of the 9, as they became the most accomplished. Both worked on the first of those features, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Johnston and Thomas and their families became next-door neighbors in the Los Angeles suburb of Flintridge, and during their 45-minute drive to the Disney Studios, each day, they would devise new ideas for work. Thomas passed away in 2004 at the age 92.

Johnston was honored with a Disney Legends Award in 1989 and, in 2005, he was the first animator honored with the National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony.