Biography: Ollie Johnston

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Birth/Death

Birth: October 31, 1912
Death: April 14, 2008

Occupation/Title

Animator

Bio Summary

Johnston was born in Palo Alto. He attended Stanford University as a journalism major as well as becoming a contributor to the school newspaper. He enrolled in the first and only art course which was landscape painting. While waiting for a class to start, a man by the name of Frank Thomas came over to him and introduced himself. This began a relationship between the two that has lasted 70 years. It was frank who convinced Ollie to try and get a job at Disney. Ollie retired from Disney in 1978 because of Palsy which he inherited from his parents. It was also at Disney where Ollie met his wife, Marie, who was working in the Ink and Paint department. They got married in January 1943.

Early Life/Family

Ollie’s father was a teacher at Stanford University. When Ollie was three years old, his father took him to the Panama Pacific Fair in San Francisco where his life long love of trains began. It was his love of trains that got Walt Disney into trains as well.

Education/Training

After college Thomas and Johnston both came south to attend Chouinard’s Art Institute where they studied with illustrator Pruett Carter.

Career Outline

Ollie started at Disney as an assistant animator on Snow White and worked his way up to Animation supervisor.

Comments On Style

Ollie was very emotional, sensing tender in his scenes which were delicate scenes, unexpected actions and deep feelings. His way of drawing and animating was very intuitive.

Influences

Personality

Johnston loved outdoor activities and sports.

Anecdotes

Johnston always had a sign on his animation desk that said, “What is the character thinking and why does he feel that way?”

Miscellaneous

Filmography

Mickey’s Garden (1935) (inbetween artist) (uncredited)
Mickey’s Rival (1936) (inbetween artist) (uncredited)
More Kittens (1936) (assistant animator) (uncredited)
Little Hiawatha (1937) (assistant animator) (uncredited)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (assistant animator) (uncredited)
Brave Little Tailor (1938) (animator) (uncredited)
Mickey’s Surprise Party (1939) (animator) (uncredited)
The Practical Pig (1939) (animator) (uncredited)
The Pointer (1939) (animator) (uncredited)
Pinocchio (1940) (animator) (as Oliver M. Johnston)
Fantasia (1940) (animation supervisor) (segment “The Pastoral Symphony”)
Bambi (1942) (supervising animator)
How to Play Baseball (1942) (animator)
Victory Through Air Power (1943) (animator)
Reason and Emotion (1943) (animator)
Chicken Little (1943) (animator)
The Pelican and the Snipe (1944) (animator)
The Three Caballeros (1944) (animator: “The Flying Gauchito”)
Make Mine Music (1946) (animator: “Casey at the Bat” and “Peter and the Wolf”) (as Ollie Johnston)
Peter and the Wolf (1946) (animator)
Song of the South (1946) (directing animator)
Melody Time (1948) (directing animator: “Little Toot” and “Johnny Appleseed”) (as Ollie Johnston)
Johnny Appleseed (1948) (animator)
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) (directing animator)
Cinderella (1950) (animator)
Alice in Wonderland (1951) (directing animator)
Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952) (animator)
Peter Pan (1953) (directing animator)
Ben and Me (1953) (animator)
Little Toot (1954) (animator)
Disneyland (1954) TV Series (animator)
Lady and the Tramp (1955) (directing animator)
The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) TV Series (animator) (uncredited)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958) (animator)
Sleeping Beauty (1959) (directing animator)
101 Dalmatians (1961) (directing animator)
The Sword in the Stone (1963) (directing animator)
Mary Poppins (1964) (animator)
The Jungle Book (1967) (directing animator)
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) (animator)
The Aristocats (1970) (animator)
Robin Hood (1973) (directing animator)
Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too! (1974) (animator)
The Madcap Adventures of Mr. Toad (1975) (animator)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) (animator)
The Rescuers (1977) (key animator)
The Fox and the Hound (1981) (supervising animator)

Honors

Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1980
National Medal of the Arts

Related Links

FrankAndOllie.com

Bibliographic References

“Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation” by John Canemaker

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Contributors To This Listing

Tom Kidd

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