Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ward Kimball - Cartoonist, Animator, Train Fancier, Musician - A Well Rounded Artist!

Born this day in 1914, Ward Kimball one of "Disney's Nine Old Men" would have been 96 years old today!

Ward seen below at his drawing desk at Disney Studios, joined the team in the mid-1930's

He was a deft draftsman, even at this early age, but he really liked to do more cartoony characters and had a real knack for bringing them to life through animation.

During the heyday of Disney features, he was responsible for some of the most endearing characters in the films. Not just comic sidekicks used to lighten moments, but real characters who aided the story and kept things flowing and interesting.

Among his cast of characters - From "Pinocchio" - Jiminy Crickett:

One of the real highlights of "Dumbo" (another being the "Pink Elephants on Parade") are Ward's crows:

The not so comic, but irresistably cute, Falina from "Bambi":
In "Alice and Wonderland" he was responsible for The Cheshire Cat:

...The Mad Hatter:

...and Tweedledum and Tweedledee:

He also animated Bacchus in "Fantasia", Jacque and Gus-Gus the mice and Lucifer the cat in "Cinderella" and was responsible for the musical number in "The Three Caballeros".
Here's Ward, Walt, Frank Thomas and the boys in a staged publicity film working behind the scenes. Great stuff!

He was a hard working guy indeed. See his napping technique below:

Ward was truly a well rounded guy though and his interests were well beyond just animation.

One favorite extra-curricular activity of Ward and a few of his fellow animators, was a love of Dixieland Jazz. To break up their day and work up the creative juices, they would jam around the studio. They eventually formed a formal group called "The Firehouse Five +2".
They played around Disneyland and made a few records and here they are appearing in a couple films. These guys could cook. That's Ward leading the boys and playing the mean trombone.

He was also a train fan, below is a video with his appearance on "The Tomorrow Show" with Tom Snyder in the 1970's. Ward is in full retirement from the Disney studios in this one and like a kid in a toy store right at home. It's in 7 parts, just click the links at the end of each segment to's a good watch!

When Walt Disney produced his television series "Disneyland" in the 1950's, it was Kimball that was tagged to direct, write and supervise the "Tomorrowland" segments.

It seemed strange for a guy with interests in things of the past, like steam locomotives and dixieland jazz to do a futuristic show, but Walt knew what he was doing, and Ward's natural curiosity and genuine interest in all things human made these some of the most loved and remembered of the series.
The full list of credits for this amiable and multi-talented guys are too numerous for me to get into here...just imdb him and see what I mean.
Thanks Ward! For always having fun and letting us in on it!

1 comment:

Marco said...

Here's your tip of the day.

Ward and his wife Betty donated the entire Grizzly Flats operation, along with a ton of artifacts to the Orange Empire Rail Museum in Perris. For a history and other stuff geek like you, if you have never been there - go! is the web site. 45 minutes away and full of cool stuff.

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