[[caption-width-right:350:[-Back row: Milt Kahl, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas, Eric Larson, and Ollie Johnston.-] [-Front row: Woolie Reitherman, Les Clark, Ward Kimball, and John Lounsbery.-] ]]

Some of the most revered animators in the HistoryOfAnimation, '''''Disney's Nine Old Men''''' were a group of Creator/WaltDisney's top animators, some of whom would even become directors. They also taught and mentored many of today's top animators, both at Disney and elsewhere.

!!The Nine Old Men in question are:

'''Les Clark'''

Les Clark was hired at the Disney studio in 1927, on the Monday following his high school graduation, as an assistant to Disney's chief animator Creator/UbIwerks. Some of his early work as a full-fledged animator included the xylophone sequence in ''WesternAnimation/TheSkeletonDance'', the first Silly Symphony cartoon. After Iwerks' departure in January 1930, Clark became the main animator for MickeyMouse.

Clark was known for his staging and personality animation, animating such scenes as the male tree giving a caterpillar ring to his bride in ''WesternAnimation/FlowersAndTrees'', Mickey's frustrations as a conductor in ''WesternAnimation/TheBandConcert'' and a good chunk of ''The Country Cousin''. He would eventually make a great contribution to Disney's first feature ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' by animating several complicated scenes of the titular dwarfs, most notably the "Silly Song" sequence.

Clark's skills improved while attending art classes held at the studio and, as the 1940s dawned, animated such scenes as Disney/{{Pinocchio}} turning his body all the way around while Geppetto inspected him, and Mickey working his magic on a broomstick in ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}''. In the 1950s, he would animate Disney/{{Cinderella}} dancing with her Prince Charming, [[Disney/AliceInWonderland Alice]]'s joining a merry caucus race and [[Disney/LadyAndTheTramp Lady]] bring opened as a Christmas present.

Clark made his directorial debut in 1958 with the UsefulNoted/AcademyAward-nominated ''Paul Bunyan'', and served as a sequence director on ''Disney/SleepingBeauty''. After animating a bit on ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'', Clark directed various educational films for the company until he retired in 1975, after 48 years at the studio. He died of cancer in 1979.

Walt originally chose him to write ''Literature/TheIllusionOfLife'', but he passed away during preliminary research.


'''Wolfgang Reitherman'''

Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman started at Disney in 1934.

Woolie was known for animating broad action scenes, both dramatic and comedic, such as the climactic chase with Monstro the whale in ''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}'', the dinosaurs in ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'', Timothy scaring the gossipy elephants in ''Disney/{{Dumbo}}'', and various scenes with WesternAnimation/{{Goofy}} in his shorts. He was also known for animating scenes of tension and suspense, such as the mice trying to retrieve the key in ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'', and Tramp fighting against the junkyard dogs, and later a rat, in ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp''.

In the mid-1950s, Woolie was promoted to director, and served as a sequence director for ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' (the climactic dragon fight) and ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'' (including the puppies' reunion with their parents). In 1963, with the downsizing of the animation staff, Woolie became the first director to solely direct an animated feature at Disney with ''Disney/TheSwordInTheStone''.

Following Walt's death in 1966, Woolie assumed duties as head of the animation department. Afterwards, he would win an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward for ''[[Disney/TheManyAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day]]'', and he would serve as producer on all the animated features until his retirement during production of ''Disney/TheFoxAndTheHound''.


'''Eric Larson'''

Eric Larson joined Disney 1933, and became as assistant to Ham Luske. His first major job was animating the forest animals on ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', but his breakthrough was supervising Figaro the cat in ''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}'', who he envisioned as having the personality a 4-year-old boy. After working on the pegasus family and the centaruettes in ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'', Larson would animate all of Friend Owl in ''Disney/{{Bambi}}''.

During the 1940, Larson shined with animal characters' personalities, including Sasha the bird in ''[[Disney/MakeMineMusic Peter and the Wolf]]'' and Brer Bear in ''Film/SongOfTheSouth'' and the Aracuan Bird in ''[[Disney/MelodyTime Blame It on the Samba]]''. In a departure from this role, he would animate the majority of the title character in ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'', and Disney/PeterPan's flight over London. He made a return to animals with characters like Peg in ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp'' and the puppies in ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians''.

His only directorial effort was a sequence director on ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' (he was originally going to direct ''WesternAnimation/TheSmallOne'' before it was handed over to Creator/DonBluth). As the 1960s drew on, he animated less and less on the features, such as the farm animals in ''Film/MaryPoppins'' and the vultures in ''Disney/TheJungleBook'', before quitting altogether in 1973 to head Disney's training program, teaching a new generation of animators. Among these younger animators he mentored would become be key players UsefulNotes/TheRenaissanceAgeOfAnimation, including Creator/GlenKeane, John Musker and Creator/JohnLasseter. Larson would remain at Disney as a mentor and consultant until he retired in 1986, making him the only member of the Nine Old Men to wind up working under the 1984 Management Shift team [[note]] Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, and studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg [[/note]]. He died in 1988, and the prince in ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid'' was named in his honor.


'''Milt Kahl'''

Described as "the Michelangelo of animation", Milt Kahl joined Disney in 1934. Among his first assignments were animating Mickey Mouse on shorts like ''Mickey's Circus'' and ''Disney/LonesomeGhosts'', as well as the forest animals in ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs''. His breakthrough came when he would design the title character of ''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}'', treating him not as a puppet, but as a cute little boy; he would animate when Pinocchio came to life, and later when Pinocchio found himself turning into a donkey.

After ''Pinocchio'', he would be assigned to be a supervising animator on ''Disney/{{Bambi}}'', where he animated, among other scenes, the scene where Thumper gets "twitterpated". Often assigned to realistic and solid characters, he was often mocked by his fellow artists for animating "cute", but it all changed when he animated most of the comical tiger from the WesternAnimation/{{Goofy}} short ''Tiger Trouble''. Another famous scene of his was from ''Film/SongOfTheSouth'', where Brer Rabbit tricks Brer Fox into tossing him into the briar patch.

As the 1940s came to a close, he specialized on more down-to-earth characters, such as Johnny Appleseed and Sluefoot Sue in ''Disney/MelodyTime'', Brom Bones in ''[[Disney/TheAdventuresOfIchabodAndMrToad The Legend of Sleepy Hollow]]'', the Fairy Godmother in ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'', the title character of ''Disney/PeterPan'' and Prince Phillip in ''Disney/SleepingBeauty''.

Kahl's animation in the 1960s and 1970s is also notable for his characters' broad movements, including Roger in ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'', Merlin and Madam Mim in ''Disney/TheSwordInTheStone'' (which he considered his favorite project, and also served as a character designer), Shere Kahn in ''Disney/TheJungleBook'' and Tigger in ''[[Disney/TheManyAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day]]''. He would retire in 1976 after animating all of Madame Medusa and Mr. Snoops in ''Disney/TheRescuers''.


'''Frank Thomas'''

Described by Creator/ChuckJones as "the Creator/LaurenceOlivier of animation", Frank Thomas joined the studio in 1934, and soon became an assistant to Creator/FredMoore, one of Disney's star animators. his first important scene was in ''Mickey's Elephant'', where Pluto tries to make head or tail of a disappearing ball, and then animated the powerful scene in ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' where the dwarfs mourn Snow White in her glass coffin. Frank became a rising star at the studio, and animated another fine piece of personality animation, MickeyMouse's encounter with a grizzly bear in ''The Pointer'

He then animated the not-yet-alive Disney/{{Pinocchio}} during the "Little Wooden Head" number, and then drew him alive for the sing "I've Got No Strings". After that, Walt assigned Frank to be a supervising animator on ''Disney/{{Bambi}}'', where his best known scene is Bambi and Thumper's misadventure while skating on a frozen lake. When World War II broke out, Frank briefly enrolled in the Air Force and joined an animation unit producing films for the Army. He returned to Disney in 1946, and soon after, animated a scene in ''[[Disney/TheAdventuresOfIchabodAndMrToad The Legend of Sleepy Hollow]]'' where Ichabod Crane nervously and slowly rides through the hollow.

During the first half of the 1950s, Thomas animated some of Disney's most memorable villains, including Lady Tremaine in ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'', the Queen of Hearts in ''Disney/AliceInWonderland'' and Captain Hook in ''Disney/PeterPan''. After that, he was assigned to ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp'', where he most famously animated the iconic SpaghettiKiss, and then helped work with the three good fairies in ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' with his lifelong friend and fellow animator Ollie Johnston.

In the 1960s, Frank worked on such scenes as Roger reviving a a newborn puppy in ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'' and the Wizards' duel in ''Disney/TheSwordInTheStone''. One of his most famous and emotional scenes would occur in the ''Disney/TheJungleBook'', where Baloo has to bring himself to tell Mowgli that he has to back to the man-village. In the 1970s, he animated the geese and dogs in ''Disney/TheAristocats'', Disney/RobinHood disguised as a stork, and a lot of scenes of Bernard and Bianca in ''Disney/TheRescuers'', which he considered his best film without Walt Disney. He retired in January 1978 during production of ''Disney/TheFoxAndTheHound''

Frank co-authored four books with Ollie Johnston: ''Literature/TheIllusionOfLife'', ''Too Funny for Words'', ''The Disney Villain'' and ''Bambi: The Story and the Film''. He and Frank would also have voice cameos in two of Creator/BradBird's films, ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles''. Frank died of natural causes in 2004.


'''Ward Kimball'''

Ward Kimball joined the studio in 1934. He soon became as assistant to Ham Luske, and was promoted to animator on ''Elmer Elephant''. In 1937, he animated two sequences for ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' that had to be cut for pacing reasons, and was tempted to quit until Walt gave him the task of designing and animating Jiminy Cricket in ''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}''.

Ward's work is easily recognizable for his characters' bouncy and often wacky movements. Among his most noted animation included the crows in ''Disney/{{Dumbo}}'', the demented Nazi take on the Sleeping Beauty story in ''WesternAnimation/EducationForDeath'', the surreal title song of ''Disney/TheThreeCaballeros'', Lucifer in ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'' and the Mad Matter and Tweedles Dee & Dum in ''Disney/AliceInWonderland''. He made his directorial debut for the short-lived "[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresInMusicDuology Adventures in Music]]" series, the second of the two, ''Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom'', won an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward.

In 1955, he directed acclaimed "Tomorrowland" episodes of the ''[[Series/WaltDisneyPresents Disneyland]]'' anthology series before being demoted back to animator in the 1960s, where he animated Ludwig von Drake singing the "Green with Envy Blues" and the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" sequence in ''Film/MaryPoppins''.

Ward was promoted back to director in 1967. During his tenure, he directed Oscar-winning ''It's Tough to Be a Bird'' and the satirical live-action short ''Dad, Can I Borrow the Car?'', was well as the animated sequences for ''Film/BedknobsAndBroomsticks''. He also created the syndicated television series ''Series/TheMouseFactory'' before arguments with the management made him retire in 1973, though he would later help Disney with [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks EPCOT Center]]'s ''World of Motion'' attraction in the 1980s. He died in 2003.

Outside the studio, he was an avid railroad enthusiast and owned his own backyard railroad, the Grizzly Flats Railroad, featuring an old locomotive he saved from the scrap pile.


'''Marc Davis'''

Marc Davis joined Disney in 1934, and was mentored by veteran animation Creator/GrimNatwick. His first work was animated the title character of ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', working with Natwick under Ham Luske.

After ''Snow White'', he was assigned to the story and animation of ''Disney/{{Bambi}}'', where he animated all of Flower the skunk. He then animated several scenes in ''Film/SongOfTheSouth'', including the first scene of Brer Rabbit, and the scene where Brer Fox and Brer Bear build the tar baby.

Marc was best known for animating solid and dainty female characters, including Disney/{{Cinderella}} (where he animated the iconic scene of her receiving her sparkly gown), [[Disney/AliceInWonderland Alice]] (which included her experience at the Mad Tea Party) and [[Disney/PeterPan Tinker Bell]]. His crowning achievement came when he designed and supervised Maleficent, the wicked villainess of ''Disney/SleepingBeauty''. After his most challenging assignment, animating all of Cruella de Vil in ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'', Marc left the animation department.

He then became an artist at WED Enterprises, Walt's "imagineering" workshop that designed attractions for [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks Disneyland]], alongside his wife Alice, who was a costume designer. Among the attractions he worked on included ''Pirates of the Caribbean'', ''Ride/TheHauntedMansion'' and the ''Country Bear Jamboree''. Marc died in 2000.


'''Ollie Johnston'''

Ollie Johnston started at the Disney studio in 1935, as a cleanup artist on ''Mickey's Garden''. In 1936, he became an assistant under Creator/FredMoore, who is credited with establishing the Disney style. Ollie be the head assistant on the dwarfs in ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', who Moore had designed and was supervising animator on. Ollie would make his debut as an animator on ''WesternAnimation/BraveLittleTailor'', where he animated the scenes of the townspeople spreading the rumor of Mickey killing seven giants.

Ollie was best known for incorporating feeling and emotion into his characters, and his breakthrough moment is considered to be Disney/{{Pinocchio}} lying to the Blue Fairy from inside a birdcage. Afterwards, he animated the little cherubs dressing up the centaurettes in ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'' and various personality scenes of the ambitious ''Disney/{{Bambi}}'', including the scenes where the young prince first learns to walk and where Thumper reluctant says that "eating greens is a special treat".

Perhaps the broadest character Ollie animated was the female Emotion in the WWII propaganda short ''Reason and Emotion'', who hated to be restrained in the backseat and wanted to have some fun. After the war, Ollie animated the timid but adventurous titular character in ''[[Disney/MakeMineMusic Peter and the Wolf]]'' and the egotistical prosecutor in ''[[Disney/TheAdventuresOfIchabodAndMrToad The Wind in the Willows]]''.

One of Ollie's toughest assignments was that of the stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella in ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'', due to the fact that, since he specialized in personality and emotion, those characters were intended to be unlikable. For ''Disney/AliceInWonderland'', he animated a majority of the diminutive King of Hearts and a bit of Alice herself. Afterward came one of his most famous performances, as the lead animator for the bumbling Mr. Smee in ''Disney/PeterPan''.

Ollie was lifelong friends with fellow animator Frank Thomas, and he would often be paired with him in animating various characters, including the three good fairies in ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'', Merlin and Wart in ''Disney/TheSwordInTheStone'', and Mowlgi and Baloo in ''Disney/TheJungleBook'' (where he also animated the scene near the end where Mowlgi is enchanted by a girl into going to the man-village).

His favorite film after the death of Walt Disney was ''Disney/TheRescuers'', where he animated the interaction between Penny and Rufus the cat, the latter of whom was a self-caricature. After contributing some early animation for ''Disney/TheFoxAndTheHound'', Ollie would return from the Disney studio in January 1978.

He would co-author four Disney books with Frank Thomas: ''Literature/TheIllusionOfLife'', ''Too Funny for Words'', ''The Disney Villain'' and ''Bambi: The Story and the Film''. He and Frank would also have voice cameos in two of Creator/BradBird's films, ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles''. Ollie died of natural causes in 2008 as the last surviving member of the Nine Old Men.


'''John Lounsbery'''

John Lounsbery joined Disney in 1935, and would serve as an assistant to star animator Norm Ferguson. His first job as an animator was a scene of Mickey Mouse scolding Pluto in ''The Pointer''. He received his first credit on ''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}'', where he animated with Fergy on scenes of Honest John and Gideon. Afterward, he would animate on Ben Ali Gator in the "Dance of the Hours" sequence of ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'', and scenes in ''Disney/{{Dumbo}}'' where the titular elephant interacts with Timothy.

Louns would often animate characters with a lot of squash-and-stratch to them, including Willie the Giant in ''Disney/FunAndFancyFree'', George Darling in ''Disney/PeterPan'', and Tony and Joe in ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp''. Other characters Louns animated included King Hubert and Maleficent's goons in ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'', and the Baduns and Colonel in ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians''.

Louns was promoted to director in 1973, and directed the UsefulNotes/AcademyAward-nominated ''[[Disney/TheManyAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too]]''. He died suddenly in 1976 while co-directing ''Disney/TheRescuers'' (animator Art Stevens would take over his duties).

!!Common tropes include:
* AnimationBump: Any scene under their supervision, especially if it's a Milt Kahl scene.
* ArtifactTitle: Walt's nickname for the Men was in reference to a nickname that JFK gave his (significantly older) cabinet.
* AwesomeMcCoolname: Wolfgang Reitherman.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Easily Ward, noted by the Disney Family Album as "The Disney animator who never grew up".
* [[CoolOldGuy Cool Old Guys]]
* PassingTheTorch: Around the 70's to early 80's.
* RailEnthusiast: Ward and Ollie were noted railway enthusiasts and actually got Walt Disney to have his own backyard railroad in his Carolwood home.
** Ward himself went all-out with the famous [[http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m30ig3MOze1qdrk8fo1_1280.png "Grizzly Flats Railroad"]] and after his death, received Disneyland Railroad No. 5 as his [[http://www.mickeyxtreme.com/images1/news%202005/62605wardkimballrr.jpg namesake]].
* ShoutOut: ''WesternAnimation/RunawayBrain'', ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'' make shout outs to Frank and Ollie.
** Frank and Ollie even make a small cameo in ''The Iron Giant'', voicing two railroad workers that [[InkSuitActor were drawn to look like them]].
** Same thing in ''The Incredibles''. Two old men at the end of the climactic battle against the Omnidroid are animated to look like, and are voiced by, Ollie and Frank.
* SpiritualSuccessor: Many of the [[TheRenaissanceAgeOfAnimation renaissance-era]] animators, such as Creator/GlenKeane, Andreas Deja, [[Creator/PixarRegulars John Lasseter]], and Creator/BradBird, all of whom were their proteges.