Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ollie Johnston: 1912 - 2008

Ollie Johnston, the last of the Nine Old Men of Disney legend, is no longer with us.

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."
Brad Bird, the genius behind Pixar's The Incredibles and Ratatouille, has a nice tribute up here, which includes an anecdote about inheriting Johnston's desk (and hallowed pencil shavings) at Disney the week Johnston retired.

Johnston became a mentor who appeared in animated cameo in two of Bird's pictures, which says a lot about both Bird and Ollie Johnston. It's comforting to know that in Disney/Pixar animation today, they do make them like they used to, thanks to this kind of respect for tradition and continuity.

Rest in peace, Ollie.

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