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1[[quoteright:350:]]²[[caption-width-right:350:[-From left to right:\²Back row: Milt Kahl, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas, Eric Larson, and Ollie Johnston.\²Front row: Woolie Reitherman, Les Clark, Ward Kimball, and John Lounsbery.-] ]]²²Some 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.²²!The Nine Old Men in question are:²!!Leslie James "Les" Clark (Nov. 17, 1907–Sept. 12, 1979)²[[quoteright:350:]]²²Les 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.²²Clark 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 ''WesternAnimation/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' by animating several complicated scenes of the titular dwarfs, most notably the "Silly Song" sequence.²²Clark's skills improved while attending art classes held at the studio and, as the 1940s dawned, animated such scenes as WesternAnimation/{{Pinocchio}} turning his body all the way around while Geppetto inspected him, and Mickey working his magic on a broomstick in ''WesternAnimation/{{Fantasia}}''. In the 1950s, he would animate WesternAnimation/{{Cinderella}} dancing with her Prince Charming, [[WesternAnimation/AliceInWonderland Alice]]'s joining a merry caucus race and WesternAnimation/{{Lady|AndTheTramp}} being opened as a Christmas present.²²Clark made his directorial debut in 1958 with the UsefulNotes/AcademyAward-nominated "WesternAnimation/PaulBunyan", and served as a sequence director on ''WesternAnimation/SleepingBeauty''. After animating a bit on ''WesternAnimation/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 1979.²²Walt originally chose him to write ''Literature/TheIllusionOfLife'', but he passed away during preliminary research.²²!!Eric Cleon Larson (Sept. 03, 1905–Oct. 25, 1988)²[[quoteright:350:]]²²Eric Larson joined Disney in 1933, and became an assistant to Hamilton "Ham" Luske. His first major job was animating the forest animals on ''WesternAnimation/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', but his breakthrough was supervising WesternAnimation/{{Figaro}} the cat in ''WesternAnimation/{{Pinocchio}}'', who he envisioned as having the personality a 4-year-old boy. After working on the pegasus family and the centaruettes in ''WesternAnimation/{{Fantasia}}'', Larson would animate all of Friend Owl in ''WesternAnimation/{{Bambi}}''.²²During the 1940s, Larson shone with animal characters' personalities, including Sasha the bird in ''[[WesternAnimation/MakeMineMusic Peter and the Wolf]]'', Br'er Bear in ''Film/SongOfTheSouth'' and the Aracuan Bird in ''[[WesternAnimation/MelodyTime Blame It on the Samba]]''. In a departure from this role, he would animate the majority of the title character in ''WesternAnimation/{{Cinderella}}'', and WesternAnimation/PeterPan's flight over London. He made a return to animals with characters like Peg in ''WesternAnimation/LadyAndTheTramp'' and the puppies in ''WesternAnimation/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians''.²²His only directorial effort was a sequence director on ''WesternAnimation/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 ''WesternAnimation/TheJungleBook1967'', before quitting altogether in 1973 to head Disney's training program, teaching a new generation of animators. Some of the younger animators he mentored would become key players in 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 ''WesternAnimation/TheLittleMermaid1989'' was named in his honor.²²!!Milton Erwin "Milt" Kahl (Mar. 22, 1909–Apr. 19, 1987)²[[quoteright:350:]]²²Described as "the Creator/{{Michelangelo|Buonarroti}} of animation", Milt Kahl joined Disney in 1934. Among his first assignments were animating Mickey Mouse on shorts like ''Mickey's Circus'' and ''WesternAnimation/LonesomeGhosts'', as well as the forest animals in ''WesternAnimation/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs''. His breakthrough came when he would design the title character of ''WesternAnimation/{{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.²²After ''Pinocchio'', he would be assigned to be a supervising animator on ''WesternAnimation/{{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 Br'er Rabbit tricks Br'er Fox into tossing him into the briar patch.²²As the 1940s came to a close, he specialized on more restrained characters, such as Johnny Appleseed and Sluefoot Sue in ''WesternAnimation/MelodyTime'', Brom Bones in ''[[WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfIchabodAndMrToad The Legend of Sleepy Hollow]]'', the Fairy Godmother in ''WesternAnimation/{{Cinderella}}'', the title character of ''WesternAnimation/PeterPan'', and Prince Phillip in ''WesternAnimation/SleepingBeauty''.²²Kahl's animation in the 1960s and 1970s is also notable for his characters' broad movements, including Roger in ''WesternAnimation/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'', Merlin and Madam Mim in ''WesternAnimation/TheSwordInTheStone'' (which he considered his favorite project, and also served as a character designer), Shere Kahn in ''WesternAnimation/TheJungleBook1967'' and Tigger in ''[[WesternAnimation/TheManyAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day]]''. One of his most recognizable trademarks was giving characters a cocky "head swagger" when they talked, which showed off his uncanny ability to to lip sync while keeping his drawings rock-solid, a tricky thing to do in hand-drawn animation.²²Kahl would retire in 1976 after animating all of Madame Medusa and Mr. Snoops in ''WesternAnimation/TheRescuers''.²²!!Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman (Jun. 26, 1909–May 22, 1985)²[[quoteright:350:]]²²Woolie Reitherman started at Disney in 1934.²²Woolie was known for animating broad action scenes, both dramatic and comedic, such as the climactic chase with Monstro the whale in ''WesternAnimation/{{Pinocchio}}'', the dinosaurs in ''WesternAnimation/{{Fantasia}}'', Timothy scaring the gossipy elephants in ''WesternAnimation/{{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 ''WesternAnimation/{{Cinderella}}'', and Tramp fighting against the junkyard dogs, and later the rat, in ''WesternAnimation/LadyAndTheTramp''.²²In the mid-1950s, Woolie was promoted to director, and served as a sequence director for ''WesternAnimation/SleepingBeauty'' (the climactic dragon fight) and ''WesternAnimation/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'' (including the puppies' reunion with their parents). In 1961 he directed ''WesternAnimation/{{Aquamania}}'', one of the last Goofy animated shorts. In 1963, with the downsizing of the animation staff, Woolie became the first director to solely direct an animated feature at Disney with ''WesternAnimation/TheSwordInTheStone''.²²Following Walt's death in 1966, Woolie assumed duties as head of the animation department. Afterwards, he would win an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward for ''[[WesternAnimation/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 ''WesternAnimation/TheFoxAndTheHound''.²²!!Franklin Rosborough "Frank" Thomas (Sept. 05, 1912–Sept. 08, 2004)²[[quoteright:350:]]²²Described 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 finale of ''WesternAnimation/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, WesternAnimation/MickeyMouse's encounter with a grizzly bear in ''The Pointer''.²²He then animated the not-yet-alive WesternAnimation/{{Pinocchio}} during the "Little Wooden Head" song sequence, and then drew him alive for "I've Got No Strings". After that, Walt assigned Frank to be a supervising animator on ''WesternAnimation/{{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 ''[[WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfIchabodAndMrToad The Legend of Sleepy Hollow]]'' where Ichabod Crane nervously and slowly rides through the hollow.²²During the first half of the 1950s, Frank animated some of Disney's most memorable villains, including Lady Tremaine in ''WesternAnimation/{{Cinderella}}'', the Queen of Hearts in ''WesternAnimation/AliceInWonderland'' and Captain Hook in ''WesternAnimation/PeterPan''. After that, he was assigned to ''WesternAnimation/LadyAndTheTramp'', where he most famously animated the iconic SpaghettiKiss, and then helped work with the three good fairies in ''WesternAnimation/SleepingBeauty'' with his lifelong friend and fellow animator Ollie Johnston.²²In the 1960s, Frank worked on such scenes as Roger reviving a newborn puppy in ''WesternAnimation/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'' and the Wizards' duel in ''WesternAnimation/TheSwordInTheStone''. One of his most famous and emotional scenes would occur in ''WesternAnimation/TheJungleBook1967'', where Baloo has to bring himself to tell Mowgli that he has to go back to the man-village. In the 1970s, he animated the geese and dogs in ''WesternAnimation/TheAristocats'', WesternAnimation/RobinHood disguised as a stork, and a lot of scenes of Bernard and Bianca in ''WesternAnimation/TheRescuers'', which he considered his best film without Walt Disney. He retired in January 1978 during production of ''WesternAnimation/TheFoxAndTheHound''²²Frank 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 Oliver Johnston would also have voice cameos in two of Creator/BradBird's films, ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles''. Frank died of natural causes in 2004.²²!!Marc Fraser Davis (March 30, 1913–January 12, 2000)²[[quoteright:350:]]²²Marc Davis joined Disney in 1934, and was mentored by veteran animator Creator/GrimNatwick. His first work was animating the title character of ''WesternAnimation/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', working with Natwick under Ham Luske.²²After ''Snow White'', he was assigned to the story and animation of ''WesternAnimation/{{Bambi}}'', where he animated all of Flower the skunk. He then animated several scenes in ''Film/SongOfTheSouth'', including the first scene of Br'er Rabbit, and the scene where Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear build the tar baby.²²Marc was best known for animating solid and dainty female characters, including WesternAnimation/{{Cinderella}} (where he animated the iconic scene of her receiving her sparkly gown), WesternAnimation/{{Alice|InWonderland}}, (which included her experience at the Mad Tea Party) and [[WesternAnimation/PeterPan Tinker Bell]]. His crowning achievement came when he designed and supervised Maleficent, the wicked villainess of ''WesternAnimation/SleepingBeauty''. After his most challenging assignment, animating all of Cruella de Vil in ''WesternAnimation/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'', Marc left the animation department.²²He 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. The attractions he worked on included ''Pirates of the Caribbean'', ''Ride/TheHauntedMansion'', ''Ride/CountryBearJamboree'' and ''Ride/AmericaSings''. ²²!!Ward Walrath Kimball (Mar. 04, 1914–Jul. 08, 2002)²[[quoteright:350:]] ²²Creator/WardKimball joined the studio in 1934. He soon became an assistant to Ham Luske, and was promoted to animator on ''Elmer Elephant''. In 1937, he animated the [[WhatCouldHaveBeen "Music in Your Soup" and "Building a Bed for Snow White"]] sequences for ''WesternAnimation/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', both of which eventually 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 ''WesternAnimation/{{Pinocchio}}'' as a sort of consolation prize.²²Ward's work is easily recognizable for his characters' bouncy and often wacky movements; one case he's not well-known for yet probably demonstrates this the most obviously is [[GenkiGirl Faline]] in ''WesternAnimation/{{Bambi}}''. Among his most noted animation included the crows in ''WesternAnimation/{{Dumbo}}'', the demented Nazi take on the Literature/SleepingBeauty story in ''WesternAnimation/EducationForDeath'', the surreal title song of ''WesternAnimation/TheThreeCaballeros'', Lucifer in ''WesternAnimation/{{Cinderella}}'', and the Mad Hatter and Tweedles Dee & Dum in ''WesternAnimation/AliceInWonderland''. He made his directorial debut for the short-lived "WesternAnimation/{{Adventures in Music|Duology}}" series, the second of which, ''Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom'', won an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward.²²In 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''.²²Ward was promoted back to director in 1967. During his tenure, he directed the Oscar-winning ''WesternAnimation/ItsToughToBeABird'' 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 2002.²²Outside 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.²²!!John Mitchell "Louns" Lounsbery (Mar. 09, 1911–Feb. 13, 1976)²[[quoteright:350:]]²²Best-known to his colleagues as "Louns", 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 ''WesternAnimation/{{Pinocchio}}'', where he animated with Norm on Honest John and Gideon. Afterward, he would animate on Ben Ali Gator in the "Dance of the Hours" sequence of ''WesternAnimation/{{Fantasia}}'', and scenes in ''WesternAnimation/{{Dumbo}}'' where the titular elephant interacts with Timothy.²²Louns would often animate characters with a lot of [[TheTwelvePrinciplesOfAnimation squash-and-stretch]] to them, including Willie the Giant in ''WesternAnimation/FunAndFancyFree'', George Darling in ''WesternAnimation/PeterPan'', and Tony and Joe in ''WesternAnimation/LadyAndTheTramp''. Other characters Louns animated included King Hubert and Maleficent's goons in ''WesternAnimation/SleepingBeauty'', and the Colonel and Jasper and Horace Badun in ''WesternAnimation/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians''.²²Louns was promoted to director in 1973, and directed the UsefulNotes/AcademyAward-nominated ''[[WesternAnimation/TheManyAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too]]''. He died suddenly in 1976 while co-directing ''WesternAnimation/TheRescuers'' (animator Art Stevens would take over his duties).²²!!Oliver Martin "Ollie" Johnston Jr. (Oct. 31, 1912–Apr. 14, 2008)²[[quoteright:350:]]²²Ollie 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 was the head assistant on the dwarfs in ''WesternAnimation/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.²²Ollie was best known for incorporating feeling and emotion into his characters, and his breakthrough moment is considered to be WesternAnimation/{{Pinocchio}} lying to the Blue Fairy from inside a birdcage. Afterwards, he animated the little cherubs dressing up the centaurettes in ''WesternAnimation/{{Fantasia}}'' and various personality scenes of the ambitious ''WesternAnimation/{{Bambi}}'', including the scenes where the Young Prince first learns to walk and where Thumper reluctantly says that "eating greens is a special treat".²²Perhaps the broadest character Ollie animated was the female Emotion in the WWII propaganda short ''WesternAnimation/ReasonAndEmotion'', 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 ''[[WesternAnimation/MakeMineMusic Peter and the Wolf]]'' and the egotistical prosecutor in ''[[WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfIchabodAndMrToad The Wind in the Willows]]''.²²One of Ollie's toughest assignments was that of the stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella in ''WesternAnimation/{{Cinderella}}'', due to the fact that, since he specialized in personality and emotion, those characters were intended to be unlikable. For ''WesternAnimation/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 ''WesternAnimation/PeterPan''.²²Ollie 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 ''WesternAnimation/SleepingBeauty'', Merlin and Wart in ''WesternAnimation/TheSwordInTheStone'', and Mowlgi and Baloo in ''WesternAnimation/TheJungleBook1967'' (where he also animated the scene near the end where Mowlgi is enchanted by a girl into going to the man-village).²²His favorite film after the death of Walt Disney was ''WesternAnimation/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 ''WesternAnimation/TheFoxAndTheHound'', Ollie would retire from the Disney studio in January 1978.²²He 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.²²----²!!Common tropes include:²* AnimationBump: Any scene under their supervision, especially if it's a Milt Kahl scene.²* ArtifactTitle: Walt's nickname for the Men was in reference to a derisive nickname used by UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt to refer to a then Republican-controlled [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCourts Supreme Court]], which was constantly striking down New Deal legislation as being unconstitutional.²* AwesomeMcCoolName: Wolfgang Reitherman--a common name in Germany, but not in the US.²* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Easily Ward, noted by the Disney Family Album as "The Disney animator who never grew up".²* {{Cool Old Guy}}s²* TheFriendsWhoNeverHang: You'd be forgiven for thinking it, but the Nine Old Men were not all friends with each other in real life and the relationship between several of them was largely professional. This is one of the reasons why there are ''very'' few group photos of them all together.²* HeterosexualLifePartners: Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston were this in real life.²* NewMediaAreEvil: Zigzagged. Frank Thomas was initially very critical about computer animation, but some time after he retired from the business, he became interested in it and began learning how to do it on his own time. Ward Kimball had also expressed that if he hadn't retired from animation, he would have been interested in learning it too. Marc Davis, on the other hand, absolutely loathed it and even bringing up the subject about him was [[BerserkButton known to make him very angry.]]²* PassingTheTorch: Around the 70's to early 80's.²* RailEnthusiast: Ward and Ollie were noted railway enthusiasts and actually got Walt Disney to have his own backyard railroad in his Carolwood home. ²** Ward himself went all-out with the famous [[ "Grizzly Flats Railroad"]] and after his death, received Disneyland Railroad No. 5 as his [[ namesake]].²* ShoutOut:²** ''WesternAnimation/RunawayBrain'', ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'' make shout outs to Frank and Ollie.²** Frank and Ollie even make a small cameo in ''The Iron Giant'', voicing two railroad workers that [[InkSuitActor were drawn to look like them]].²** 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.²----


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