Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Disney Legend and One of Walt’s Nine Old Men ~ John Lounsberry

Disney Legend and One of Walt’s Nine Old Men

º ~ John Lounsberry ~ º

March 9th, 1911 ~ February 13th, 1976

Worked for Disney

1935 ~ 1976
The youngest of three sons, John was born March 9, 1911, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised in Colorado, where he enjoyed winter sports, drawing and summer trips to the mountains. After graduating from East Denver High School, he enrolled in the Art Institute of Denver, where he received his diploma in 1932. That same year, John moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a freelance commercial artist, while attending illustration courses at the Art Center School of Design. One of the school's instructors spotted John's talent and pointed him in the direction of The Walt Disney Studios, which was searching for artists at the time.

Lounsbery was hired by Disney on July 2, 1935, beginning as an assistant animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He went on to work on numerous other short features in the 1940s, for several years, he specialized in "Pluto" shorts, while continuing to serve as part of the animating team on nearly all of Disney's most famous feature-length animated films. In the 1970s, he was promoted to director and directed Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too! and co-directed The Rescuers.

John Lounsbery had his own special way of looking at things, according to his fellow animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. In their book Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, they wrote that no matter how bad a situation might be, John could always make "some funny observation to lighten the situation."

And while shy by nature, John's animated characters were anything but. Thomas and Johnston wrote, "Hardly subtle, John's characters were always fun to watch."

In fact, John once said that one of his all-time favorite characters, which he animated, was the bold and unabashed Ben Ali, the dancing alligator, who starred in the "Dance of the Hours" sequence of "Fantasia." Other memorable characters he animated include, the "less-than" Honest John in "Pinocchio," faithful Timothy the mouse in "Dumbo" and the ever-so-jolly Tony the cook in "Lady and the Tramp," to name just a few.

He also served as directing animator on such beloved Pooh featurettes as "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree" and "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," which won an Academy Award in the category of Best Cartoon Short Subject. John also directed "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too," which earned an Oscar nomination.

John Lounsbery died on February 13, 1976 in Los Angeles, California of heart failure during heart surgery at aged 64. At the time of his death, he was working on the The Rescuers and still animating at the Walt Disney Studios. He was named a Disney Legend in 1989.

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