Ollie Johnston, 1912-2008

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Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston in The Incredibles

Ollie Johnston is what you call a complete artist. I spent many a day as a child reading his book The illusion Of Life (co-written with fellow master artist Frank Thomas) and it was a major contributor to my lifelong love of animation. They were two of Disney's "Nine Old Men" who changed film and entertainment as we know it, for the better.

Ollie Johnston, who died on Monday aged 95, was a leading animator with Walt Disney and the last survivor of the "Nine Old Men" who had shaped the style of the studio's films from Snow White onwards.

Johnston's particular contribution was the injection of emotion and his insistence that the characters should seem naturally involved in the situations demanded by the plot.

According to his friend and principal collaborator, Frank Thomas, "Ollie was the only one of the Studio animators who was sensitive to character relationships and how they affected story.

Back then cartoon characters seldom touched unless they hit each other. But one day Ollie said, 'You know, the act of two people holding hands communicates in a powerful way.' And he was right. His warmth made a difference in so many of our characters."

Among the friendships Johnston created in his work for Disney were Baloo and Mowgli in The Jungle Book (1967), the villainous, sycophantic relationship between Prince John and Sir Hiss in Robin Hood (1973) and the parents, Pongo and Perdita, in 101 Dalmatians (1961).