Ollie Johnston, the last surviving member of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, passed away yesterday, April 14, 2008 in Sequim, Washington. He was 95.
As a member of the group that studio founder Walt Disney had dubbed his Nine Old Men, Johnston helped to animate the studio’s most famous features, from Snow White And The Seven Dwarves (1937) to The Rescuers (1977).
Johnston specialized in animating comic villain characters, bringing to life Mr. Smee in Peter Pan (1953), Cinderella‘s Stepsisters, the District Attorney in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), and Robin Hood‘s nemesis, Prince John. However, he also animated non-villainous characters such as Alice in Alice In Wonderland (1951), the three Fairy Godmothers from Sleeping Beauty (1953), the penguin waiters from Mary Poppins (1964) and The Jungle Book‘s Baloo.
Johnston often worked with his friend and fellow “Old Man” Frank Thomas. The two co-authored the animation textbook The Illusion Of Life, which stands as a record of many of the techniques developed during the early days of the Disney studio. Director Brad Bird featured Johnston and Thomas in cameoes in his films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.