and Ollie Johnston were both born in California in the same year; 1912;
Frank in Santa Monica, Ollie in Palo Alto. Although they had
quite different personalities, they found that they worked together
always planning, forever thinking his way through the problems, keeping
everything orderly, even in wild, crazy, impossible actions.
Ollie was more emotional, sensing tender, delicate scenes, unexpected
actions and deep feelings. Both of them were known for their
ability to create warm, believable characters who could be either
lovable or threatening, or both.
made a movie spoof of Hollywood's view of college life back in
1930. It was very successful and made $1000 over expenses at
the local theaters. He had no idea of animation at that time
but liked the idea of making films. Ollie was interested in
art. In college he drew pictures of his favorite athletes,
which were printed in the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1931 they met at
Stanford University where they were both enrolled in the Art
Department. However they discovered that they were more interested in
gags and screwy routines for school shows than they were for painting
and design classes. It was the beginning of a long friendship
as they gained attention to their monthly cartoons in Stanford's humor
magazine and developed a new perspective on college life.
they came south to attend Chouinard's Art Institute where they studied
with famed illustrator Pruett Carter. Suddenly drawing and design
became very important. Carter's chief interest in his
magazine work was in making the figures look like they were thinking
and getting involved in the situations, and showing how they felt about
their predicaments. This was a new philosophy for Frank and Ollie and
one that stimulated the desires they had in their own drawings.
It was still
in their minds in 1934 when Carter stopped teaching and the two young
students went to the Disney Studio seeking employment. Ollie
had considered going into magazine illustration, but once he saw the
acting possibilities in the animation, he was hooked. This
was just what he had always wanted.
it was what Walt wanted too.
This began a
spectacular 43-year career at The Walt Disney Studio as top animators,
directors and story men. Frank and Ollie gave the illusion of life to
some of the most endearing animated characters to ever appear on the
screen. Their humor, sensitivity, and acting abilities proved to have
universal and lasting appeal and their skills at communicating these
qualities in their drawings earned them places as two of Walt Disney's
"Nine Old Men."
men retired in 1978 to write the books about animation and the pictures
they had created. Nearly five years were required to complete
the first definitive book, Disney Animation; the Illusion of Life that
was published in 1981, it was followed by Too Funny For
Words; Walt Disney's Bambi, The Story and The Film; and The
Disney Villain which was translated into French two years later. The
Illusion of Life has been translated into Japanese and was so popular
that it recently had a second printing.
If you want
to learn more about the motion pictures and books Frank and Ollie
contributed to, visit our "Our
pages. To learn more about Frank see Frank's
To learn more about Ollie see Ollie's