Ollie Johnston's birthday is on Halloween. Next week would be his 106th. He was the longest living member of the Nine Old Men.
I love this photo of him (by Mark Kirkland), because this is just how I remember him. When reminiscing about his career at Disney, he said:"I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time."
Ollie was kind to everybody, he loved talking to young artists who shared his passion. He was full of stories and anecdotes from decades he spent animating at Disney.
He would tell things like what a ball he had working on the film Robin Hood. "I was probably one of the few artists who enjoyed animating on that movie because they gave me Prince John and Sir Hiss."
Milt Kahl didn't care for Robin Hood, and Frank Thomas is known to list his assignments as his least favorites.
Ollie's work continues to inspire, I still can't figure out how he animated Baloo and Mowgli during the Bare Necessities number. The rhythm, the choreography and the sheer joy in the animation still blows my mind.
Here are just a few reminders of his genius.
Jock and Alice/Howard Lowery