On this day in 1935 young Ollie Johnston is hired by the Disney Studio. He began working as an in-betweener but worked his way up through to directing animator on Pinocchio. He worked for Disney through 1978, with The Rescuers being the last picture he worked on for the company (the cat, Rufus, in the picture is a caricature of Ollie).
Ollie also co-authored several books with his friend Frank Thomas, including: Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, Too Funny for Words: Disney’s Greatest Sight Gags, Walt Disney’s Bambi – the Story and the Film, and The Disney Villain.
It was during a tour for Walt Disney’s Bambi, that I was fortunate enough to meet Ollie, and Frank, at a signing event. Both men were warm, friendly and incredibly willing to share some great advice to me during an extended period of time with them. The pictures of me with them are some of my most treasured items.
Ollie, along with Frank Thomas, Les Clark, Woolie Reitherman, Eric Larson, Ward Kimball, Milt Kahl, John Lounsbery, and Marc Davis are lovingly referred to as Disney’s “Nine Old Men”. Their impact on the Disney Studio and the animation industry are immeasurable. Ollie died on April 14, 2008, aged 95.