Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 10:37 UK

'Golden age' Disney animator dies

Disney's 'Nine Old Men' in the early 1950s
Ollie Johnston (fifth from left) was one of the so-called 'Nine Old Men'

The last of the great artists from Walt Disney's "golden age" of animation has died at the age of 95, said Disney.

Ollie Johnston was the last surviving member of an elite group of Disney animation pioneers known as the "Nine Old Men".

His films included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan.

"Ollie was part of an amazing generation of artists, one of the real pioneers of our art," said Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney.

Bambi scene

Mr Johnston studied at Los Angeles' Chouinard Art Institute and was approached by the then-fledgling Disney studio in 1935 to work on animated shorts including Mickey's Garden, Pluto's Judgement Day and Mickey's Rival.

His first feature film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, and he went on to work on classic Disney animated films such as Fantasia, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and The Jungle Book.

His famous scenes included the heartbreaking death of Bambi's mother at the hands of a hunter.

Mr Johnston retired in January 1978 to devote his time to writing, lecturing and consulting.

In 1989, he received a Disney Legends Award, and in 2003, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held a tribute to him.

In 2005, Mr Johnston received the National Medal of Arts, becoming the first animator to ever receive the honour.

Mr Johnston, who died in Washington state, is survived by his sons, Ken and Rick.

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