Ollie Johnston, the last surviving animator of Disney’s famed Nine Old Men, passed away today April 14, 2008. Johnston worked for the Mouse House from 1935 to 1978, working as an animator on such classics as SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, FANTASIA, BAMBI and PINOCCHIO. He last worked on THE RESCUERS, a film for which he was caricatured as the cat Rufus.

Along with longtime friend and collaborator Frank Thomas, Johnston co-authored the seminal animation reference book THE ILLUSION OF LIFE, which is used as an animation textbook in schools around the globe. Johnston’s friendship and partnership with Thomas was warmly chronicled in the 1995’s documentary FRANK AND OLLIE, directed by Frank’s son Theodore.

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