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Tag Archives: Nine Old Men

June 25

June 25, 2005 – The Ward Kimball Steam Engine is Put Into Service in Disneyland

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“Also, unlike the other engines, it was named not for an icon of the railroad, but for an icon of the Walt Disney Company.”

On June 25, 2005, the number 5 engine, the Ward Kimball, was officially put into service as part of the Disneyland Railroad. It was the first new engine to be added to the railroad in almost 50 years, and was named for Nine Old Men member and railroad enthusiast Ward Kimball; Kimball’s love of trains inspired Walt Disney’s love of railroads. The engine would be dedicated on February 15, 2006, as a part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Disneyland. The engine itself was operated by Kimball’s grandson, Nate Lord, an engineer for the Disneyland Railroad.

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October 31

October 31, 1993 – The Book The Disney Villain is Published by Hyperion

“Disney villains in particular are some of the most exciting and memorable characters in popular culture, and the Disney Villain…is the first comprehensive retrospective of the wondrous gallery of fifty-five charismatic and colorful rapscallions that audiences throughout the years have loved to hate.”

On October 31, 1993, the book The Disney Villain was published by Disney’s publishing arm Hyperion. Written by veteran animators and members of the Nine Old Men Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, the book celebrates and explores the villains in the then 60 years of Disney animation, starting with Mickey’s nemesis Peg Leg Pete, and moving to the villains of the emerging years of the Disney Renaissance. The book was also notable for looking at the nature of villains across a wide-spectrum of characters, ranging from Monstro the whale to Maleficent.

August 4

August 4, 1985 – Nine Old Men Animator Ollie Johnston is Profiled on The Disney Family Album

“Just because they’re a bunch of mere pencil drawings, going through these routines and giving these performances, to me, that was real.”

On August 4, 1985, the fifteenth episode of the documentary series The Disney Family Album premiered on the Disney Channel. The series introduced those that had an impact on making Disney the company it became; this episode introduced Nine Old Men member Ollie Johnston, known for his work on animating Thumper from Bambi and the fairies from Sleeping Beauty. The episode focused on his career at Disney, when he started as an apprentice animator on Disney early short films, such as the Academy Award winning The Tortoise and the Hare, leading to his role as an animator and a directing animator on over 24 animated feature films. The episode also focused on his train hobby, one he shared with fellow animator Ward Kimball, as well as Walt Disney, and looked at the backyard railroad he built himself.

July 19

July 19, 1989 – Ub Iwerks and the Nine Old Men are Honored as Disney Legends

“Collectively, they helped establish The Walt Disney Company…the impact of their work is immeasurable.”

On July 19, 1989, the Disney Legends Award Ceremony was held at the Walt Disney Studios. The focus of the ceremony were the animators that helped make the Walt Disney Company and Disney Animation: animator and Imagineer Ub Iwerks, and Nine Old Men animators Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Woolie Reitherman, and Frank Thomas. This group was considered the “Founders Circle” of the Walt Disney Company. Of those being honored, only Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, and Ward Kimball were alive to attend the ceremony.

April 9

April 9, 1978 – Ten Disney Animators are Honored by Delta Kappa Alpha

“This evening, we pay tribute to the achievements of Walt Disney Productions and the men who worked there. Delta Kappa Alpha is proud to present its Pioneer in Film Award to both the Disney Studio and the ten veteran animators who helped create many classics.”

On April 9, 1978, the 39th annual awards banquet for the Delta Kappa Alpha fraternity was held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. The fraternity was founded in 1937 and was dedicated “to the furthering of the film arts and to the promotion of better relations between the academic and practicing members of the industry, both theatrical and non-theatrical.” This banquet honored ten animators from Walt Disney Productions: members of the Nine Old Men (Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, Marc Davis, Ward Kimball, Woolie Reitherman, Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Milt Kahl), and Ken Anderson.

May 10

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May 10, 2005 – Ollie Johnston Drives the Marie E. at Disneyland

On May 10, 2005, a special ceremony was held in Disneyland for animator and member of the Nine Old Men Ollie Johnston. Under the ruse of receiving a special honor for contributing to the Carolwood organization, Johnson was surprised to find that his locomotive, the Marie E., was on the Disneyland tracks to allow him one last ride. Johnson, along with Ward Kimball and Walt Disney, were train enthusiasts, but in his older age, Johnson had to sell his train as he was unable to operate it. Sold to none other than John Lasseter, Lasseter was able to find a way to bring it to the park in a special ceremony. Friends and family were gathered at Frontierland station to watch Johnson ride his beloved train one last time.

September 5

September 5, 1912 – Animator, Member of Disney’s Nine Old Men, and Disney Legend Frank Thomas is Born

Frank Thomas

“Frank was a giant in our field and he meant everything to me and to all of us who love the art of animation. Besides being one of the key guys to help elevate animation from a novelty to an incredible art form, he was so generous in passing along his knowledge and experiences to the generations that followed.” – John Lasseter

On September 5, 1912, Franklin Rosborough Thomas was born in Fresno, California. Thomas knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist, and in his sophomore year at Fresno State, his interest expanded into animated films. After graduating from Stanford University, he honed his craft at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. After being told by a member of his rooming house that the Disney Studios had an opening, Thomas applied and joined on September 24, 1934 as employee number 224. His first assignment was the animated short film Mickey’s Elephant. In 1941, Thomas was picked to be part of a small goodwill tour of South America, which culminated in the animated feature films Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. As a member of the Nine Old Men, Thomas served as a directing animator for several characters, as well as being well regarded for several of his animated sequences, including the dwarfs crying over Snow White’s body, and Bambi and Thumper’s ice skating scene. Thomas was also the pianist for the famed Disney Dixieland band Firehouse Five Plus Two. In 1978, Thomas retired from the Disney Studios, but still remained involved in the field of animation, co-writing several books with colleague and long-time friend Ollie Johnston, including one of the most important books in the study of animation: Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life. He, along with other members of the Nine Old Men, were honored as Disney Legends in 1989. In 2004, Thomas passed away at the age of 92.