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peaches magee
04-29-2008, 11:00 PM
Found this little gem in my Disney Insider... I adore anything on these fellas.


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They weren't old -- at least, not when they got the name. But there were nine of them, and they were Walt Disney's right-hand men. With the passing of Ollie Johnston on April 14, the Nine Old Men, the legendary animators who created many of Disney's more unforgettable moments are all gone now. But they are far from forgotten, and the Insider wanted to pay tribute to these groundbreaking artists.
The Nine Old Men moniker was born in a joke by Walt, referring to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's nickname for the nine justices of the Supreme Court. At the time, the artists were pretty young -- in their 30s and 40s -- but the name stuck. The Nine Old Men, in concert with Walt's big dreams, may be said to have created the modern art of animation -- and rare is the film studio that could boast such an incredible aggregation of talent, with so little ego.

The Nine are: ...

Les Clark (November 17, 1907 - September 12, 1979),
who joined Disney in 1927. Les took over drawing Mickey Mouse from Ub Iwerks, Mickey's original artist, and became a Mickey specialist. He also worked on many of the Disney animated features. He became a director in his later career and helmed many of Disney's animated shorts.


Marc Davis (March 30, 1913 - January 12, 2000)
started in 1935 on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first of the Disney animated features. He developed many of Disney's most memorable characters, including Bambi and Thumper, Maleficent, and Cruella De Vil. He also worked with Disney Imagineering, and you can see his work when you ride Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion attractions.


Ollie Johnston (October 31, 1912 - April 14, 2008),
joined Disney in 1935, along with his fellow Stanford art student and lifelong friend Frank Thomas. Ollie drew Characters such as Mr. Smee, Cinderella's stepsisters, and Prince John in "The Sword in the Stone." He and Frank Thomas were often known as "Frank and Ollie," because the two were inseparable as colleagues and friends. After they both retired from Disney in 1978, they went on to co-author a number of books on the art of animation -- including "the animator's bible," "The Illusion of Life."


Milt Kahl (March 22, 1909 - April 19, 1987)
also worked on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Over the years, he created some of Disney's most memorable villains, including Sher Khan in "The Jungle Book" and Madame Medusa "The Rescuers."


Ward Kimball (March 4, 1914 - July 8, 2002)
joined Disney in 1934 and went on to specialize in wacky and exaggerated characters, like the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat in "Alice in Wonderland."


Eric Larson (September 3, 1905 - October 25, 1988)
was hired at the Studio in 1933. His memorable characters include Peg in "Lady and the Tramp," and many of the animal characters in "Song of the South." He also was responsible for recruiting and training many of the talented young animators who joined the Studio in the '70s and '80s, so his touch is evident in a later generation of Disney classic films.


John Lounsbery (March 9, 1911 - February 13, 1976)
started in 1935. He was noted for a loose, organic, dynamic style that beautifully suited the amorous ballet-dancing alligator in "Fantasia," the elephants of "The Jungle Book," and many more.


Wolfgang Reitherman (June 26, 1909 - May 22, 1985)
started his Disney career in 1935 as an animator and director. He directed all the animated Disney films from Walt's death in 1966 until his retirement in 1981, a stupendous undertaking.


Frank Thomas (September 5, 1912 - September 8, 2004)
joined Disney in 1934, along with his close friend Ollie Johnston. He animated a wonderul rogue's gallery of villains, including Cinderella's stepmother and Captain Hook. Among the books he co-authored with Ollie is "Disney Villains" -- a subject dear to his heart.

Each of these men had unique talents and a distinctive style, but the films they created are seamless works of art -- a triumph of collaboration and collegiality. Although they are gone now, they've created a legacy of animation that lives on in the hearts of children and adults everywhere