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The Nine Old Men
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Animators
    Affiliated with The Walt Disney Company
    Walt Disney Studios' core animation team from the late 1940s into the late 1970s
    Responsible for some of Disney's most memorable and famous animated feature cartoons
    Functioned as the Studio Animation Board, selected personally by Walt Disney
    Entrusted with helping to advise Walt on other animators and devise policy on forthcoming animation
    Variously contributed to the Disney animated features, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (1937), 'Pinocchio' (1940), 'Fantasia' (1940), 'Dumbo' (1941), 'Bambi' (1942), 'Saludos Amigos' (1942), 'The Three Caballeros' (1944), 'Make Mine Music' (1946), 'Fun and Fancy Free' (1947), 'Melody Time' (1948), 'The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad' (1949), 'Cinderella' (1950), 'Alice in Wonderland' (1951), 'Peter Pan' (1953), 'Lady and the Tramp' (1955), 'Sleeping Beauty' (1959), 'One Hundred and One Dalmatians' (1961), 'The Sword in the Stone' (1963), 'The Jungle Book' (1967), 'The Aristocats' (1970), 'Robin Hood' (1973), 'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' (1977) and 'The Rescuers' (1977)
    Les Clark (1907-1979), earliest member of the group, specialized in animating Mickey Mouse cartoons
    Walt Kimball (1914-2002), usually animated sidekicks or wild 'comic relief' figures (The Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat in 'Wonderland,' Jiminy Cricket, the Mice in 'Cinderella')
    Eric Larson (1905-1998), usually depicted animals (101 Dalmatians, Kanga & Roo) and occasionally Disney heroines (Alice from 'Wonderland,' Wendy Darling Cinderella), was later tasked with spotting/training new animators for the company in the 1970s
    Frank Thomas (1912-2004), specialized in Disney Villains (Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother, Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook)
    Marc Davis (1913-2000), specialized mainly in animals (Bambi, Thumper) and feminine characters (Cruella de Vil, Princess Aurora and Maleficent in 'Sleeping Beauty')
    Ollie Johnston (1912-2008), specialized in slapstick buffoon characters, usually broadly caricatured (Cinderella's Wicked Stepsisters, Mr. Smee in 'Peter Pan,' Robin Hood's Prince John and Sir Hiss)
    Milt Kahl (1909-1987), arguably the most versatile of 'The Nine,' specializing in both protagonists (Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Tigger) and antagonists (Shere Khan, The Sheriff of Nottingham, Madame Medusa in 'The Rescuers)
    John 'Louns' Lounsbery (1911-1976), specialized in animating heavily caricatured, 'stretchy and squashy' figures (King Stefan & Hubert in 'Sleeping Beauty,' Willie the Giant) as well as several of the company's trademarked characters (Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Donald Duck)
    Wolfgang 'Woolie' Reitherman (1909-1985), specialized in some of the company's more challenging assignments, e.g. physical forces of nature (the Whale in 'Pinocchio,' the Dinosaurs in the 'Rite of Spring' segment of 'Fantasia')
    Some of their artwork has been retrospectively criticized as racially insensitive (The Crows in 'Dumbo,' the Indians in 'Peter Pan').
    Their name was a play on FDR's nickname for the Supreme Court Justices (inspiring a popular 1936 book of the same name).
    Their selection by Walt Disney reportedly alienated other studio animators who weren't chosen, aggravating existing tensions within the company.
    Some of the company's most impressive animators, such as Art Babbit and Bill Tytla, departed before they could be part of 'the Nine.'
    Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas get most of the attention because of their longevity, despite contributing neither more or less than any other member (they were also the most prolific in literature on animation).
    By the time 'Robin Hood' was released, only 4-5 of the original 'Nine' were still animating for Disney (signaling what Disney fans have since named Disney animation's 'Dark Age').
    Marc Davis later said about working with Walt and the other 'Old Men': 'There was competition, but it was an odd kind of competition. I’ve said before in a joking manner that Walt Disney’s greatest achievement was in getting us all to work together without killing one another!'
    Ward Kimball complained about censors instructing him not to depict the title character in 'The Reluctant Dragon' with a navel when he emerged towel-clad from his bath, saying 'its a f-ing dragon, for god's sake!'
    They contributed to the design of several Disney theme park attractions.
    Wolfgang Reitherman and John Lounsebery both went on to work as animated feature directors.
    Walt Disney usually got the credit for their contributions, even though he admitted he rarely lifted a pen to do much other than sign a check, a contract, or an autograph (at least during the years of their activity).
    By delegating his authority to 'the Nine,' Mr. Disney was freed to concentrate on expanding the company into new and more diverse mediums (television, amusement parks, live action film, etc.).
    Their creative freedom was restricted by the outbreak of World War II, during which time they shifted their energy to producing war bond/pro-Allied Forces propaganda cartoons (although Reitherman and Thomas left the studio to serve in the military).
    Although not being their preferred venue, they produced high quality animated work for 'Victory Through Air Power,' 'Education for Death,' and 'Reason and Emotion.'
    Almost every facet of modern animation is indebted to their body of work.
    Each member of the 'Nine Old Men' was individually honored with the Winsor McCay Award (the lifetime achievement award for animators) during the 1970s and 1980s.
    This was evinced by the influence they held over high-profile Disney animators such as Glen Keane, Andreas Deja, James Baxter, Ruben Aquino, and Mark Henn (who in turn trained up-and-coming animators).
    Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston both made cameos in 'The Iron Giant' (1999) and 'The Incredibles' (2004), both of which were directed by their student, Brad Bird.
    They outlined the famous '12 Basic Principles of Animation': Squash & stretch, Anticipation, Staging, Straight Ahead Action/Pose to Pose, Follow Through/Overlapping Action, Slow In/Slow Out, Arcs, Secondary Action, Timing, Exaggeration, Solid Drawing, and Appeal.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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