LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The last of‘s original team of animators, known as the Nine Old Men, has died at the age of 95, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
Johnston died of natural causes in a long-term care facility inon Monday.
Born inin 1912, Johnston showed early artistic promise and attended Chouinart Art Institute in . During his final year of college in 1935, Disney approached Johnston to join his fledgling animation studio.
Starting with “” in 1946, Johnston became directing animator and served in that capacity in nearly every subsequent film. He retired in 1978 after completing some work on his final film, “ .”
Johnston devoted his retirement to writing, lecturing and consulting and to model trains, of which he was considered one of the world’s foremost experts.
In 2005, he became the first animator awarded a National Medal of the Arts, and he and his lifelong friend and fellow Disney animator,, were profiled in the 1995 documentary “ .”
Disney Chief Creative Officer, who pioneered computer animated films such as “ ” and “Cars,” considered Johnston and Thomas as mentors.
“He taught me to always be aware of what a character is thinking, and we continue to make sure that every character we create at Pixar and Disney has a thought process and emotion that makes them come alive,” Lasseter said in a statement.
Johnston is survived by two sons.