Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Yale Gracey – from Disney Legends

Yale Gracey (Animation & Imagineering)

 

Always interested in devising gadgets and building models, layout artist Yale Gracey’s office at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank was always cluttered with some of his lunch-hour experiments. One Saturday afternoon, as Walt Disney made his rounds through deserted offices to see what his staff was working on during the week, he came across one of Yale’s mock-ups, featuring the illusion of falling snow. Impressed, Walt later asked the gadgeteer to help research and develop attractions for Disneyland.

John Hench, senior vice president of creative development, recalled, “Whenever we needed a special effect, we went to Yale. Sometimes it took a while to get what we were asking for, however, along the way he’d develop other marvelous effects we could use. I remember one time we asked him to create a particular illusion and in the process of experimenting he developed a gopher bomb, which we all used in our yards. It worked very well!”

The son of an American Consul, Yale was born in Shanghai, China, in 1910. He attended an English boarding school and after graduation, moved to the United States, where he attended the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles.

In 1939, Yale joined The Walt Disney Studios as a layout artist working on the animated classic “Pinocchio,” followed by “Fantasia.” He also contributed to the layouts and backgrounds of animated shorts featuring Donald Duck and other characters.

In 1961, Yale began the second and most profound stage of his Disney career, as a special effects and lighting artist at Walt Disney Imagineering, then called WED (Walter Elias Disney) Enterprises. With no special effects training other than his own hands-on experimentation, Yale worked as a research and development designer creating illusions, such as the “999 grim, grinning ghosts” featured in the Haunted Mansion and the flames of the burning city in Pirates of the Caribbean. He also contributed to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair attractions, including the Carousel of Progress, for which he developed a pixie dust projector that blocks out everything on stage (during scene changes) via the illusion of glimmering pixie dust, the only light source in a darkened theater. The technology is also used in Space Mountain to block out the surrounding roller coaster structure.

After 36 years with the company, Yale retired October 4, 1975. He continued to consult on special effects and lighting for attractions at Walt Disney World and EPCOT Center in Florida.

Yale died in Los Angeles on September 5, 1983, at the age of 73.

Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Ward Kimball

Ward Walrath Kimball (March 4, 1914 – July 8, 2002) was an Academy Award winning animator for the Walt Disney Studios. He was one of Walt Disney’s team of animators known as Disney’s Nine Old Men. While Kimball was a brilliant draftsman, he preferred to work on comical characters rather than complicated human designs. Animating came easily to him and he was constantly looking to do things differently. Because of this, Walt Disney called Ward a genius in the book, “The Story Of Walt Disney.” While there were many geniuses at Disney, Ward’s efforts stand out as unique, especially within the Disney universe.
Kimball created several classic Disney characters including The Crows in “Dumbo”, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, the Mice and Lucifer from Cinderella, and Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio and animated the famous “Three Caballeros” number. In the mid fifties, he became a director and was responsible for the Academy Award Winning, “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom” and three Disney television shows about outer space that put the United States into the space program.

He was also a jazz trombonist. He founded and led the seven piece Dixieland band Firehouse Five Plus Two, in which he played trombone. They made at least 13 LP records and toured clubs, college campuses and jazz festivals during the 1940s to early 1970’s. Kimball once said that Walt Disney didn’t mind the second career as long as it didn’t interfere with his animation work.

A view of the narrow gauge Grizzly Flats Railroad locomotive Emma Nevada, coach #5, and a caboose at the Kimball home in San Gabriel, California on June 16, 1946.Along with his employer and friend Walt Disney, Kimball also collected old railroad ephemera, was an avid train enthusiast and donated his 3′ gauge collection to the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California. A full-sized steam locomotive which Kimball actually ran on his private three acre backyard railroad, Grizzly Flats, in San Gabriel, California bears some of his original artwork on the headlamp and cab, and is on permanent display at the museum. He is credited with helping Walt Disney with the inspiration to install the Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland. Inspiration for the Disneyland Railroad also partly came from Walt’s own personal 7 1/4″ gauge, live steam backyard Carolwood Pacific Railroad – also partly built by Ward. Kimball’s Grizzly Flats train station was the model for the Disneyland Frontierland Train Station.

Kimball continued to work at Disney up until the early 70’s, working on the Disney TV program, Mary Poppins, Directing the animation for Bedknobs & Broomsticks and doing titles for some feature films like Million Dollar Duck (1971) and The Adventures Of Bullwhip Griffin (1967). His last staff work for Disney was Producing and Directing the Disney show, The Mouse Factory.

He continued to do various projects on his own, even returning to Disney to do some publicity tours. Kimball even worked on an attraction for EPCOT Center called The World Of Motion.

Imagineering Bio: Walt Disney

For the company founded by Disney, see The Walt Disney Company.

Walter Elias Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966), was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, and animator. He was the son of parents Flora and Elias Disney, and had three brothers and one sister. As the co-founder (with his brother Roy O. Disney) of Walt Disney Productions, Walt became one of the most well-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation he co-founded, now known as The Walt Disney Company, today has annual revenues of approximately US $30 billion.

Walt Disney is particularly noted for being a successful storyteller, a hands-on film producer, and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. His brother Roy helped him tremendously with his work. He also had two daughters, Diane and Sharon. He and his staff created a number of the world’s most popular animated properties, including the one many consider Disney’s alter ego, Mickey Mouse. He is also well-known as the namesake of the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the United States.

Walt Disney died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, a few years prior to the opening of his Walt Disney World dream project in Orlando, Florida.

Imagineering Bio: Ub Iwerks

Ub Iwerks (Ubbe Ert Iwwerks) (March 24, 1901–July 7, 1971), was a two-times Academy Award winner American animator, cartoonist and special effects technician, who was famous for his work for Walt Disney. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri. His name is explained by his East Frisian roots — his father, Eert Ubbe Iwwerks, emigrated to the USA in 1869 from the village Uttum in East Frisia (northwest Germany).

Iwerks was responsible for the distinctive style of the earliest Disney animated cartoons. The first few Mickey Mouse cartoons were animated almost entirely by Iwerks. He was considered by many to be Walt Disney’s oldest friend, and spent most of his career with Disney. Iwerks and Disney had a falling-out, and their friendship was severed when Iwerks accepted a contract with a competitor to leave Disney and start an animation studio under his own name.

The Iwerks Studio opened in 1930. Financial backers led by Pat Powers suspected that Iwerks was responsible for much of Disney’s early success. However, while animation for a time suffered at Disney from Iwerks’ departure, it soon rebounded as Disney brought in talented new young animators. The Iwerks Studio enjoyed no great success and failed to rival the top Disney and Fleischer Studios. The backers withdrew further financial support from Iwerks Studio in 1936, and it soon folded. After this, Ub Iwerks worked for a time for Columbia Pictures, before returning to work for Disney in 1940.

After his return to Disney Studios, Iwerks mainly worked on developing special visual effects, like his Academy Award nominated achievement for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. He is credited as developing the processes for combining live action and animation used in Song of the South. He also worked at WED Enterprises, now Walt Disney Imagineering, helping to develop many Disney theme park attractions during the 1960s.

Iwerks’s most famous work outside animating Mickey Mouse was Flip the Frog for his own studio. Flip bears more than a small resemblance to the characters Iwerks drew earlier, Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Iwerks was known for his fast work at drawing and animation and his wacky sense of humor. Animator Chuck Jones, who worked for Iwerks’ studio in his youth, said “Iwerks is Screwy spelled backwards.” Ub Iwerks died in 1971 of a heart attack in Burbank, California, aged 70.

A documentary film, The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story was released in 1999, followed by a book written by Leslie Iwerks and John Kenworthy in 2001.

 

Imagineering Bio: Ollie Johnson

Oliver Martin Johnston, Jr. (born on October 31, 1912 in Palo Alto, California) is a pioneer in the field of motion picture animation. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men, and the last living member. His work was recognized with the National Medal of Arts in 2005.He was a directing animator at Walt Disney Studios from 1935-1978. He contributed to many films including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Bambi and Pinocchio. His last full work for Disney came with The Rescuers, which was the last film of the second golden age of Disney animation that had begun in 1950 with Cinderella. In The Rescuers, he was caricatured as one of the film’s most important characters, the cat Rufus. Ollie Johnston on his garden railroad in 1993 Johnston co-authored, with Frank Thomas, the classic reference book The Illusion Of Life. This book helped preserve the knowledge of the techniques that were developed at the studio. The partnership of Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas is fondly presented in the documentary “Frank and Ollie”, produced by Theodore Thomas, Frank’s son.

Personal life:

Johnston attended Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Chouinard Art Institute.Ollie married a fellow Disney employee, Ink and Paint artist Marie Worthey, in 1943. Marie Johnston died May 20, 2005. Ollie’s lifelong hobby was live steam trains. Starting in 1949, he built a 1″ scale backyard railroad, with three 1/12th scale locomotives, now owned by his sons. This railroad was one of the inspirations for Walt Disney to build his own backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which again inspired the building of the railroad in Disneyland.In the 1960s Ollie acquired and restored a full-size narrow-gauge Porter engine. This engine was sold to John Lasseter (of Pixar Studios fame). On November 10, 2005, Ollie Johnston was among the recipients of the prestigious National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W. Bush in an Oval Office ceremony.

 

Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Milt Kahl

Milton Erwin Kahl (born March 22, 1909, in San Francisco, California, USA; died April 19, 1987, in Mill Valley, California, USA, of pneumonia) was an animator for the Disney studio. Kahl is often considered the finest draughtsman of the Disney animators. For many years the final look for the characters in the Disney films were designed by Kahl, in his angular style inspired by Ronald Searle and Picasso. He is revered by contemporary masters of the form, such as Andreas Deja, and Brad Bird. In the book The Animator’s Survival Kit the author Richard Williams makes repeated reference and anecdotes relating to Kahl.

Imagineering Bio: Ollie Johnson

Oliver Martin Johnston, Jr. (born on October 31, 1912 in Palo Alto, California) is a pioneer in the field of motion picture animation. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men, and the last living member. His work was recognized with the National Medal of Arts in 2005.He was a directing animator at Walt Disney Studios from 1935-1978. He contributed to many films including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Bambi and Pinocchio. His last full work for Disney came with The Rescuers, which was the last film of the second golden age of Disney animation that had begun in 1950 with Cinderella. In The Rescuers, he was caricatured as one of the film’s most important characters, the cat Rufus. Ollie Johnston on his garden railroad in 1993 Johnston co-authored, with Frank Thomas, the classic reference book The Illusion Of Life. This book helped preserve the knowledge of the techniques that were developed at the studio. The partnership of Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas is fondly presented in the documentary “Frank and Ollie”, produced by Theodore Thomas, Frank’s son.

Personal life:

Johnston attended Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Chouinard Art Institute.Ollie married a fellow Disney employee, Ink and Paint artist Marie Worthey, in 1943. Marie Johnston died May 20, 2005. Ollie’s lifelong hobby was live steam trains. Starting in 1949, he built a 1″ scale backyard railroad, with three 1/12th scale locomotives, now owned by his sons. This railroad was one of the inspirations for Walt Disney to build his own backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which again inspired the building of the railroad in Disneyland.In the 1960s Ollie acquired and restored a full-size narrow-gauge Porter engine. This engine was sold to John Lasseter (of Pixar Studios fame). On November 10, 2005, Ollie Johnston was among the recipients of the prestigious National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W. Bush in an Oval Office ceremony.

Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Mary Blair

Mary Blair (October 21, 1911–July 26, 1978), born Mary Robinson, was an American artist best remembered today for work done for The Walt Disney Company. Blair produced striking conceptual art for such films as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Her style also lives on through the character designs for the Disney attraction “it’s a small world”, as well as an enormous mosaic inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Blair was honored as a Disney Legend in 1991.

Born October 21, 1911 in McAlester, Oklahoma, Mary Browne Robinson moved to Texas while still a small child, and later to California when she was about 7. Having graduated from San Jose State College, Mary won a scholarship to the renowned Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles, where teachers included Pruett Carter, Morgan Russell and Lawrence Murphy. In 1934, she married another artist, Lee Everett Blair (October 1, 1911–April 19, 1995).

Both Blairs soon began to work in the animation industry, joining the Ub Iwerks studio. Lee went on to work at the Harman-Ising studios before ultimately joining the Walt Disney studio where he was joined by his wife in 1940.

After leaving the studio for a brief time in 1941, Mary traveled to various South American countries with Walt and Lillian Disney and other artists on a research tour as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy. During those trips, Mary and Lee worked on concept art for the animated feature films Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros with Mary credited as art supervisor on those films.

She also worked on Make Mine Music, credited as art supervisor, Song of the South, credited for background & color, Melody Time, credited for color & styling, So Dear to My Heart and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

The early 1950s were a busy time for the Disney studio, with an animated feature released nearly every year. Mary Blair was credited with color styling on Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951 and Peter Pan (1953) and the artistic influence of her concept art is strongly felt in those films as well as several animated shorts she designed during that period.

After the completion of Peter Pan, Mary resigned from Disney and worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, creating advertising campaigns for companies such as Nabisco, Pepsodent, Maxwell House, Beatrice Foods and others. She also illustrated several Golden Books for publisher Simon & Schuster and designed Christmas and Easter sets for Radio City Music Hall.

At the request of Walt Disney, who highly regarded her innate sense of color styling, Mary began work on the attraction “it’s a small world”, originally a Pepsi-Cola sponsored pavilion benefiting UNICEF at the 1964 New York World’s Fair which moved to Disneyland after the Fair closed and was later replicated at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World as well as Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. (The attraction will also be part of the scheduled expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland).

In 1967, Mary created mural art for Tomorrowland’s Adventure thru Inner Space that was covered over during subsequent renovations of that Disneyland area in 1987 and 1998. That year, she also was credited as color designer on the film version of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.

Her design of a ninety-foot high mural remains a focal point of the Disney’s Contemporary Resort hotel at Walt Disney World, which was completed for the resort’s opening in 1971.

Mary Blair died of a cerebral hemorrhage on July 26, 1978.

While the fine art she created outside of her association with Disney and her work as an illustrator is not widely known or appreciated, her bold and groundbreaking color design still serves as an inspiration to contemporary designers and animators.

Imagineering Bio: Marty Sklar

Martin A. “Marty” Sklar is The Walt Disney Company’s international ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering, the subisdary of the company which designs and constructs the Disney theme parks and resorts across the world. Sklar was formerly vice president of concepts and planning for the company, before being promoted to president, and then eventually taking the position of vice chairman and principal creative executive of the company before his current role.

Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Sklar was a student at UCLA and editor of its Daily Bruin newspaper in 1955 when he was recruited to create an 1890s-themed newspaper, The Disneyland News, a month before the theme park opened. After graduating, he joined Disneyland full-time in 1956, where he held responsibility for most of the park’s publicity and marketing materials.

In 1961, he moved to WED Enterprises, renamed in 1986 to Walt Disney Imagineering, where he worked on attractions for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. For nearly 10 years, he wrote personal materials for Walt Disney for use in publications, television and special films. In 1974 he became vice president of concepts/planning, and guided the creative development of EPCOT Center (now known as Epcot) at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort.

As vice president of creative development, executive vice president and then president of Imagineering for nine years, Sklar supervised the design and construction of Tokyo Disneyland, the Disney-MGM Studios, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s California Adventure, Tokyo DisneySea, the Walt Disney Studios Park and most recently Hong Kong Disneyland.

On February 16, 2006, the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the unit of the Walt Disney Company which serves as the umbrella for Walt Disney Imagineering, Jay Rasulo, announced that Sklar would resign from his current position and take up the new position of international ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering. The occupation entails travelling around art and design and architecture colleges, universities and other institutions around the world, offering seminars attracting new talent to the company, as well as being a presence at future attraction and park openings, representing the company. Sklar said in a joint statement, “I knew that as my 72nd birthday and my 50th Disney anniversary approached, I would look for new challenges, so when Jay Rasulo asked me to talk about the future, I was ‘all ears’ to a challenging proposal Jay made. It not only seems to be one of those ideas that is overdue, but it was clear to me that I am the perfect casting (perhaps the only candidate) capable of originating and organizing this assignment.” [1]

In 2001, Sklar was recognized as a Disney Legend and was the second recipient of the Themed Entertainment Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Sklar serves as president of Ryman Arts, whose Ryman Program for Young Artists honors the late Herb Ryman, an artist, designer and fellow Disney Legend.

Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Marc Fraser Davis

March 30 , 1913 – January 12 , 2000 ) was a prominent artist and animator for Walt Disney Studios. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men , the famed core animators of Disney animated films.

Some of the animated characters Davis mainly designed and animated are Thumper from Bambi ( 1942 ), Brer Rabbit from Song of the South ( 1946 ), Cinderella ( 1950 ), Alice of Alice in Wonderland ( 1951 ), Tinker Bell in Peter Pan ( 1953 ), Maleficent and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty ( 1959 ) and Cruella De Vil of 101 Dalmatians ( 1961 ).

Davis also designed the characters for many Disneyland ride and show animatronics: The Enchanted Tiki Room, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Ford’s Magic Skyway, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Jungle Cruise, America Sings, The Haunted Mansion, “It’s a Small World,” Western River Expedition, and the Country Bear Jamboree.

His wife Alice Davis created the original costuming for figures in the Disneyland rides Pirates of the Caribbean and “It’s a Small world.”

In 1989, he was named a Disney Legend . He was also the receipient of the much coveted Mousecar.

Davis died in January 2000; that same month, the Marc Frasier Davis Scholarship Fund formally was established at the California Institute of the Arts .

Quotes

On Disneyland rides: “We really don’t have a story, with a beginning, an end, or a plot. It’s more a series of experiences building up to a climax. I call them experience rides.”

Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: John Lounsbery

John Lounsbery, one of Walt Disney’s legendary “Nine Old Men,” was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 9, 1911. He graduated from the Art Institute of Denver, in 1932. Moving to Los Angeles, he submitted his work to the Disney Studios and joined the animation team in 1935.

His character animation work included Ben Ali of “Fantasia,” Honest John in “Pinocchio”, Timothy in “Dumbo” and Tony in “Lady and the Tramp.” Moving into the role of Animation Director, he worked on “Alice in Wonderland”, “Peter Pan”, “Sleeping Beauty” and ‘Winnie the Pooh” to name a few.

His untimely death occurred in 1976, while working for Disney on “The Rescuers.”

John Lounsbery was posthumously named a Disney Legend in 1989.

Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: John Hench

John Hench (June 29, 1908 – February 5, 2004) was an employee of The Walt Disney Company for more than sixty five years, an exceptionally long tenure which saw the rise of nearly every Disney animated feature and theme park.Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Hench attended numerous art and creative schools across the country, including the Art Students’ League in New York City, the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Starting in 1939 as a story artist, he weaved his way through the animation department doing everything including backgrounds, layout and art direction, even effects animation and special effects. Walt Disney respected Hench as one of the studio’s most gifted artists and teamed him with Salvador Dalí on the animated short Destino, a project begun in 1945 that was not completed and released until 2003.

By 1954, Hench was in the studio’s live action department, as lead developer of the hydraulic giant squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, helping to win an Academy Award for Best Special Effects for the film.After working on that live action project, he moved to WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering), to design attractions for an innovative new entertainment medium; Disneyland. Since then, Hench has become synonymous with Disney theme parks, designing the iconic Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland and creating the original groundbreaking designs for Space Mountain. Because of his resemblance to Walt Disney and his frequent visits to the Disney theme parks, he was often asked to sign autographs and pose for pictures with park visitors who thought they were meeting Disney himself. One of Hench’s most recognizable works is the well known Olympic Torch. Nearly all of the most recent versions have been modeled after his design for the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, California.

In addition to all of these lengthy achievements, Hench also was the “official portrait artist” of Mickey Mouse, painting the company’s official portraits for Mickey’s 25th, 50th, 60th, 70th, and 75th birthdays. Hench and his wife were both longtime devotees of the Hindu saint Ramakrishna and members of the Southern California Vedanta Society.

In 1990 he was awarded the prestigious Disney Legend award, the company’s highest honor, presented to him by Michael Eisner.Hench continued to maintain an office at Walt Disney Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, California and worked there daily up until a few weeks before his death. His name tag and 65-year service award are prominently displayed in the building’s lobby, and permanent tributes by fellow “Imagineers” line its hallways.

In early 2004, Hench died of heart failure after a brief hospitalization in Burbank, California.

Imagineering Bio: Joe Rohde

Joseph “Joe” Rohde is a veteran executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, the division of The Walt Disney Company that designs and builds Disney’s theme parks and resort hotels. Rohde’s formal title is executive designer and vice president, creative.

He is the lead designer of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. He also is the principal creative force behind the park’s Expedition Everest thrill ride, which debuted in 2006.

Rohde joined Imagineering in 1980 during the development of Epcot as a model designer and scenic painter for the theme park’s Mexico pavilion. He later worked as a designer on the refurbishment of Fantasyland at Disneyland, the Captain EO 3-D film attraction starring singer Michael Jackson, the Norway pavilion at Epcot and the Adventurers Club, a 1930s-themed bar and lounge that opened in 1989 within the Pleasure Island entertainment district at Walt Disney World Resort.

Rohde was featured in an April 2006 Travel Channel documentary titled Expedition Everest: Journey to Sacred Lands. The program was produced by Discovery Networks during expeditions to China and Nepal in 2005 called Mission Himalayas. The treks were sponsored by Disney, Discovery and Conservation International to promote the Expedition Everest theme park attraction and conduct scientific and cultural research in remote areas of the Himalayas.

He was born in Sacramento, California and raised in Hawaii. Rohde received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Rohde is known for a collection of earrings he wears in his left ear, souvenirs of his travels to remote corners of the world.

Jack Lindquist

Jack Lindquist (b. March 15, 1927 in Chicago) served as the president of the Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, California from 1989 until he retired in 1993. He was a Disney employee from 1955 until his retirement, and was a marketing executive in the theme parks division for almost thirty years, including a stint as the first advertising manager for Disneyland.

As a child actor, Lindquist appeared as an extra in several episodes of Our Gang, and appeared in the film Best Foot Forward with Lucille Ball.

After Lindquist retired, he received a commemorative window on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland that reads J.B. Lindquist, Honorary Mayor of Disneyland. In 1994, he was named a Disney Legend.

Walt Disney Imagineering Bio: Frank Thomas

Franklin Thomas (September 5, 1912, Fresno, California – September 8, 2004, Flintridge, California) was one of Walt Disney’s team of animators known as the Nine Old Men.

He graduated from Stanford University, attended Chouinard Art Institute, then joined The Walt Disney Company on September 24, 1934 as employee number 224. There he animated dozens of feature films and shorts, and also was a member of the Dixieland band Firehouse Five Plus Two, playing the piano.

His work in animated cartoon shorts included The Brave Little Tailor, in which he animated scenes of Mickey Mouse and the king; Mickey and the bear in The Pointer, and German dialogue scenes in the World War II propaganda short Education for Death (shortly before Thomas enlisted in the Air Force). He also worked on Pooh and Piglet in two of the Winnie the Pooh featurettes.

In feature films, among the characters and scenes Thomas animated were the dwarfs crying over Snow White’s “dead” body, Pinocchio singing at the marionette theatre, Bambi and Thumper on the ice, Lady and the Tramp eating spaghetti, the three fairies in Sleeping Beauty, Merlin and Arthur as squirrels in The Sword in the Stone, and King Louie in The Jungle Book. Thomas was directing animator for several memorable villains, including the evil stepmother Lady Tremaine in Cinderella, the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, and Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

He retired from Disney on January 31, 1978.

Thomas authored, with fellow Disney legend Ollie Johnston, the comprehensive book The Illusion Of Life, first published by Abbeville Press in 1981. Regarded as the definitive authority on traditional hand-drawn character animation (particularly in the Disney style), the book has been republished numerous times, and is often considered “the bible” among character animators. Thomas and Johnston were also profiled in the 1993 documentary Frank and Ollie, directed by Thomas’s son Theodore Thomas. The film profiled their careers, private lives, and the personal friendship between the two men.

Thomas’s last appearance in an animated film before his death was in The Incredibles, although he voiced a character, rather than animating one. Frank and his friend and colleague Ollie Johnston voiced and were caricatured as two old men saying “That’s old school…” “Yeah, no school like the old school.” The pair had previously been heard, and caricatured, as the two train engineers in Bird’s The Iron Giant.

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