John Parr Miller, an early animator for Walt Disney and best-selling children's books illustrator, died on Oct. 29, 2004, in Long Island, reports THE NEW YORK TIMES. He was 91 and lived in Manhasset, New York. His death was announced by his family.
J. P. Miller is best known for his work on the Little Golden Books line of books. His THE LITTLE RED HEN is still a perennial seller, despite being published a half a century ago.
Miller worked with a number of writers to create inventive and colorful books meant to educate, including: DO YOU KNOW COLORS? and LITTLE BUNNY FOLLOWS HIS NOSE, with text by Katherine Howard; THE SWEET SMELL OF CHRISTMAS, with Patricia M. Scarry; and THE WONDERFUL HOUSE, with Margaret Wise Brown.
Among other typical titles: LUCKY MRS. TICKLEFEATHER, MARGARET WISE BROWN'S WONDERFUL STORY BOOK, I AM A MOUSE, LITTLE TURTLE'S BIG ADVENTURE and JINGLE BELLS: A NEW STORY.
A native New Yorker, John Parr Miller found work during the Depression at Disney Studio in 1934. Prior to that he had attended Grand Central Art School for a little more than two years. In 1937 he was one of only three artists asked to start the studio's character model department. According to studio archives, he helped create the animated screen characters for Disney such as PINOCCHIO, FANTASIA and DUMBO.
He left Disney for military service in World War II, when he made training films for the Navy. After the war, Golden Books recruited him and several other Disney veterans to enliven children's books for a mass market, moving ahead of the DICK AND JANE style.
Miller continued his work as a freelance artist until about 10 years ago. Samples of his work were shown this month in a Golden Books exhibition at the Donnell Library Center opposite the Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street.
He is survived by his half brother, George E. Miller, also of Manhasset.