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Biography: John Lounsbery

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Birth: March 9, 1911, Cincinnati, Ohio
Death: February 13, 1976, Los Angeles, California


Animator, Director

Bio Summary

Best known as one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men”, John Lounsbery was born the youngest of three brothers on March 9, 1911, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised in Colorado. He graduated from East Denver High School and then attended the Art Institute of Denver.

After graduating from collage in 1932 he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a freelance commercial artist while attending illustration courses at the Art Center School of Design. One of the teachers there told him to look into the Walt Disney Studios which were searching for artists at the time.

In 1935 he was hired as an assistant animator to director Norman Ferguson to draw the Mickey Mouse cartoon series. He worked on the project through 1939 including such films as Society Dog Show (1939), The Pointer (1939), The Practical Pig (1939); and he worked on Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), the studio’s first full-length animated feature.

By 1940 he had been promoted to animator because of his great natural ability, skill, and talent. During the next seven years he worked mostly in the studio’s feature animation department. During the next seven years he worked on many great projects including: Honest John J. Worthington Foulfellow and Gideon in Pinocchio (1940), the “Dance of the Hours” segment in Fantasia (1940), Victory through Air Power (1943), The Three Cabelleros (1945) and the Wolf in the “Peter and the Wolf” segment of Make Mine Music (1946). Lounsbery also worked as the character animator on the 1940 development of Donald Duck and from 1941 to 1945 on the Pluto full-color theatrical cartoon series.

In 1940 Lounsbery was made a directing animator for the Disney Studio’s feature animation department; he went on to helm eighteen features. These included Timothy the mouse and Elephants in Dumbo (1941), Song of the South (1946), Willie the Giant in the “Mickey and the Beanstalk” section of Fun and Fancy Free (1947), Melody Time (1948) and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad (1949). Throughout the 50’s and 60’s, Lounsbery was a directing animator on Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), George Darling and the Indians in Peter Pan (1942), Tony, Joe, and Bull in Lady and the Tramp (1955), Prince Phillip, Owl, and Maleficent’s Goon in Sleeping Beauty (1959), Sergeant Tibs and Horace Badun in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), Wolf in The Sword in the Stone (1963), Mary Poppins (1964), and Shere Khan and Bugler in The Jungle Book (1967).

In the 70’s Lounsbery worked on The Aristocrats (1970), Edgar, Madame Bonfamille, and Georges Hautecourt in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), Supervising animation of the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood (1973). Lounsbery died in 1976 while still working on The Rescuers (1977) and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).

Early Life/Family

Lounsbery was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was raised in Colorado where he enjoyed winter sports and trips to the mountains in the summer.


Graduated from the Art Institute in Denver, Colorado in 1932.

Career Outline

Disney studios 1935 – 1976

Comments On Style

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston wrote, “Hardly subtle, John’s characters were always fun to watch,” and “His better drawings and bigger concept, not limited by old vaudeville acts, brought the bold, crude approach to new heights, using more refinement, more dramatic angles, more interest, and all without losing the main idea. His simple staging, appealing characters, good taste, strong squash and stretch, and controlled anticipations and follow through made a big bold statement, but they never lost believability. Hardly subtle, his characters were always fun to watch.”


Shy by nature but very light hearted.


Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston wrote that no matter how bad a situation might be, John could always make “some funny observation to lighten the situation.”




Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (assistant animator) (uncredited)
Society Dog Show (1939) (animator) (uncredited)
The Practical Pig (1939) (animator) (uncredited)
The Pointer (1939) (animator) (uncredited)
Officer Duck (1939) (animator)
Pinocchio (1940) (animator)
Donald’s Dog Laundry (1940) (animator)
Bone Trouble (1940) (animator)
Fantasia (1940) (animator) (segment “Dance of the Hours”)?Pluto’s Playmate (1941) (animator) (uncredited)
Dumbo (1941) (animation director)
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Firing Line (1942) (animator) (uncredited)
Pluto at the Zoo (1942) (animator) (uncredited)?Pluto and the Armadillo (1943) (animator) (uncredited)
Victory Through Air Power (1943) (animator)
Chicken Little (1943) (animator) (uncredited)
Springtime for Pluto (1944) (animator) (uncredited)
The Three Caballeros (1944) (animator)
The Legend of Coyote Rock (1945) (animator)
Canine Patrol (1945) (animator)
Make Mine Music (1946) (animator)
Peter and the Wolf (1946) (animator)
Song of the South (1946) (directing animator)
Fun & Fancy Free (1947) (directing animator)
Mickey and the Beanstalk (1947) (animator)
Melody Time (1948) (directing animator)
So Dear to My Heart (1948) (animator)
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) (directing animator)
Cinderella (1950) (directing animator)
Alice in Wonderland (1951) (directing animator)
Lambert the Sheepish Lion (1952) (animator)
Peter Pan (1953) (directing animator)
Ben and Me (1953) (animator)
Once Upon a Wintertime (1954) (animator)
Lady and the Tramp (1955) (directing animator)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958) (animator)
Sleeping Beauty (1959) (directing animator)
Goliath II (1960) (directing animator)
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) (directing animator)
Aquamania (1961) (animator)
“Disneyland” (animator) (7 episodes, 1955-1963)
The Sword in the Stone (1963) (directing animator)
Mary Poppins (1964) (animator)
Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) (animator)
The Jungle Book (1967) (directing animator)
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) (animator)
The AristoCats (1970) (directing animator)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) (animator)
Robin Hood (1973) (directing animator)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) (animator)?
Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too! (1974)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)?The Rescuers (1977)?


Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1986
Named a Disney Legend in 1989

Related Links

Bibliographic References

Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film and Television’s Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. Applause Books: 2006.?Thomas, Frank and Ollie Johnston. The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. Walt Disney Productions. New York: 1981.


Contributors To This Listing

Asa Enochs

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