Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ollie Johnston

This weekend I went to the home of one of my heros. A friend of mine from work (thanks Ken) mentioned that in a pennysaver mag, you know the one, one of the junk mails that comes in with the post, had advertised an estate sale by an "Ollie J". From the address he figured out that it was indeed the estate sale of the famed Disney Directing Animator and co-author of "The Illusion of Life", the bible of animation. What an event to find out about. Ollie Johnston has moved up north now with family.

Incredible. I was amazed to walk up the drive to his house and see those small railroad tracks I had heard about, circling through the gardens. I could only imagine the visitors he had throughout the years from the animation circles. I am very happy to have gotten the chance to visit his home.

Inside there was all sorts of artwork (a little original work and of course expensive) and story boards (photo copies, hand coloured) in all shapes of boxes, ready to be browsed through. Also Ollie's library of books and records and various nick-nacks scattered throughout in various rooms.

So what did I pick up? Well, here are some the following bits and pieces....
(all images are copyright of their respective owners and are published here for review only.)

A pic of both Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas. I'm sure this has been well seen as it was a publicity pic from Disney.......



Now this next image on sixteen field animation paper is fantastic. It has pinholes in it from being placed on a corkboard and all the wrinkles you'd expect from a used piece of flipped animation paper. I wonder where he had this pinned up. If anyone knows who these people are I would greatly appreciate it. I'll email a few guys I think may know and see if I can get some answers on this. Could that be Marc Davis second from the right? I think that that is Ollie on the left....I'll update later if I get an answer about this.......

*****UPDATE******
Thank you very much DAVID. Wow, that was quick. I knew I'd seen it before and couldn't place my finger on it. The drawing is by Vic Partch, and the people are from left to right.....Ollie Johnston, Ken O'Brien, Vip Partch, and as "The Illusion of Life" says, on page 143, this is "Vip's version of Ollie Johnston's animation unit. When told he had to get an inbetweener to move the work faster, Vip caricatured the only type of personality he felt he could control." Excellent. Thanks so much Dave. Everyone go visit to say thanks. Thanks also to AMID from Cartoon Brew for compiling other accounts of visits to Ollie's house.



Now, I also picked up this book which I never knew existed. It's called "The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin", written by Idries Shah and illustrated by Richard Williams. This predates "The Thief and the Cobbler" and you can definitely see a style which he continued into the film. I was so happy to find this book. Knowing that this was Ollie's, you can bet that this book has found a good home. Here are the front and back slipcased covers.






Here are a couple of illustrations from the inside of the book. Absolutely stunning drawings. I'll be treasuring this unexpected find.






Image of Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston copyright Disney
Images of "The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin" copyright Mulla Nasrudin Enterprises Ltd. 1966

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19 comments:

Angela said...

Wow, congratulations on your finds! That's extraordinary! Thanks so much for sharing :)

Is Ollie in ill health?

crylic said...

It's a very sad day to see Ollie having to sell some of what I would think were precious to him items. But such is life. I hope you value and treasure these items. I can only guess on the others but the first man in the drawing, the one saying "your my stooge" is Ollie himself. The others I can't say for sure.

Cheers.

David N said...

The people in the drawing are (left to right) Ollie Johnston, Ken O'Brien, Vip Partch, and unknown minion.

It's in Ollie's book "The Illusion of Life" on page 143 .

Several different documentaries and articles have shown that Ollie had one of Fred Moore's pencils taped-up to the window of his studio/library room at home. Did anyone happen to get the pencil ? Or is it still taped up there waiting for the new owner of the home to take it down and toss it in the trash when they find it? ("What the heck is an old pencil stub doing taped to the window?")

David N said...

The drawing is by Vip Partch , by the way.

donnachada said...

Thanks Angela, yes I had to share this. Amazing. I'm still on a buzz from going there and seeing those gems.

Hey Crylic, I don't think he "had" to sell any of these. It felt more like he was giving us a chance to share these things with others. Yes, I will be treasuring these. Thanks for dropping by.

THANK YOU SO MUCH DAVID. I posted an update with the info. Thanks for letting me know so quickly. I really appreciate it.

yuin said...

Wowww! It must have been so interesting to see Ollie Johnston's home and see all that as well as get your hands on some of those jewels. :D
(I think it was very generous of him to sell those items...)

Clio said...

Wow, what a great find, that Richard Williams book! And that's so neat you got to see his place, it's good to hear of people who will be inspired by his items buying them.

Chris Sobieniak said...

Several different documentaries and articles have shown that Ollie had one of Fred Moore's pencils taped-up to the window of his studio/library room at home. Did anyone happen to get the pencil ? Or is it still taped up there waiting for the new owner of the home to take it down and toss it in the trash when they find it? ("What the heck is an old pencil stub doing taped to the window?")

That would suck if that happens!

Carrie said...

I also visited the sale and picked up a bunch of stuff... and took one picture of the train tracks... I couldn't resist :) I'm going to post the items I purchased on my blog in a few days... there's a postcard that is especially touching. I passed up the copy of the drawing you got...it really is a good one :) It was surreal being in his home as people rooted through his pantry cabinets (I was tempted to buy some of his used spices for some reason) and boxes of paperclips and other knick knacks. I hope whoever buys the house appreciates it! (and keeps those train tracks!!)

donnachada said...

Hey Yuin, good to see you around.

Cheers Clio, yup, the items will inspire me as long as I'm around.

Hey Chris, there's no way that that pencil has gone missing. I had heard from someone that it has traveled up with him. I can't imagine that would be forgotten.

Hey Carrie, I'll be looking forward to seeing what you picked up. thanks for dropping by.

Kei Acedera said...

OH Wow, what an amazing experience! Lucky you, I'm so jealous!

Marcos Gp said...

so touching

David Nethery said...

"Hey Chris, there's no way that that pencil has gone missing. I had heard from someone that it has traveled up with him. I can't imagine that would be forgotten."

Well, I'm glad to hear that and truthfully I didn't seriously think it had been left behind... I was just sort of wondering "what if ?" .

And, of course, I was inaccurate when I characterized the Fred Moore Pencil Relic as an old pencil "stub" in my first comment... reviewing the Frank & Ollie documentary it is clearly shown as a mechanical pencil/lead holder . Ollie even mentions in the documentary that there's a bit of graphite left in it from Fred's time and he (Ollie) is saving it for some special occasion to draw with ... I wonder if he ever did ?

Here's a screen grab of The Pencil from the Frank & Ollie documentary:

Fred Moore's Magic Pencil

Boris Hiestand said...

Kind of sad how all that beautiful history from someone's personal life goes to hungry scavengers all over. Still, you must be very happy, and lucky indeed!
I'm jealous to say the least.

I have a wonderful letter I got from Ollie when I was an animation freak teen I might post on my blog soon.

donnachada said...

Hey Kei, yes I was very lucky to find out about it.

Marcos, I'm glad you think so.

Hey David, yes a "what if" is a good thought to have. I also wonder if he ever had drawn with it too.

Hey Boris, yup very lucky. Please post the letter. If you thought it was wonderful, then I'd love to hear about it. Nice to know he took the time to answer you. I bet you'll always have that letter.

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Charles Worthey said...

I have been doing a bit of genealogy of late and have noted that my farthers brother, Fred Worthey maried Grace Binham in connectic and id the farther of Marie Worthey. Uncle fred commentied sucied and was put to rest in Sheron, PA with family.
I have caled Rick Johnston but he has not returned my call. Sure would like to hear from that side of the family of which I had no information on.

Charles Worthey said...

Sorry for the above! I did not vet the writings.

I have been doing a bit of genealogy of late and have noted that my fathers brother, Fred Worthey married Grace Benham in Connecticut and is the farther of Marie Worthey. Uncle Fred commented suicide and was put to rest in Sharon, PA with family.
I have called Rick Johnston but he has not returned my call. Sure would like to hear from that side of the family of which I had no information on.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Germany..
I've read with great interest all your reports about Ollies home and the sale.
I am happy to have via ebay a model sheet copy of Baloo. Someone bought it at that event and sold it again via auction. So I have an 'original' framed in my room and will always be glad to have an Ollie-Treasure.