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 History of Animation, Disney's Nine Old Men were a group of Walt Disney'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: Working with Disney from as early as Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and having worked on almost every pre-1960 Disney feature sans Bambi and Sleeping Beauty, Les was one of Disney's true veteran animators. He animated up to Lady and the Tramp, and after that he was promoted to directing and animating shorts and featurettes for the studio until his retirement in 1975. In fact, due to being with Disney from the very beginning, Walt originally chose him to write The Illusion of Life, but he passed away during preliminary research.
Ollie Johnston: Got his start in 1935 working Snow White. Noteworthy work of his includes Mr. Smee, the Stepsisters in Cinderella, the District Attorney in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, and Prince John in Robin Hood. He and his longtime partner Frank Thomas authored the three books "The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation", "Too Funny For Words" and "The Disney Villain".
John Lounsbery: Started in 1935 and, working under Norm 'Fergy' Ferguson, quickly became a star animator. Lounsbery, affectionately known as 'Louns' by his fellow animators, was an incredibly strong draftsman who inspired many animators over the years. His animation was noted for its squashy, stretchy feel. Lounsbery animated Ben Ali Gator in Fantasia; George Darling in Peter Pan; Tony, Joe, and some of the dogs in Lady and the Tramp; The Kings in Sleeping Beauty; The Elephants in The Jungle Book; and many, many others. In the 1970s, Louns was promoted to Director and co-directed Winnie The Pooh And Tigger Too and his last film, The Rescuers.
Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman: Joined Disney in 1935 as an animator and director. He directed all the Disney features after Walt's death up till his retirement. Some of his work includes Monstro in Pinocchio, the Crocodile (in Peter Pan), the Dragon (in Sleeping Beauty), and the Rat (in Lady and the Tramp).
Doing It for the Art: They played a big role in refining Disney animation in general, although some historians, such as Micheal Barrier, continue to debate how much they really contributed to animation.
Rail Enthusiast: Like Walt himself, both Ollie and Ward had their own backyard railroads, with Ward's taking up several acres and blocks due to having full-sized narrow gauge steam trains in his backyard property! One could only wonder what the neighbors thought.