Legendary Animator Ward Kimball Passes
Ward Kimball, one of Disney's legendary Nine Old Men, passed away on July 8, 2002 from natural causes at Arcadia Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, California. He was 88 years old. Ward Kimball's work at Disney began in 1934, when he joined the animation staff at the age of twenty. In a career spanning nearly 40 years, Kimball's contributions to classic Disney animation include the creation of Jiminy Cricket for PINOCCHIO, Tweedledee and Tweedledum in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, the title song from THE THREE CABALLEROS ("The only animation I ever did that I'm uncritical of," Kimball told John Canemaker in the book WALT DISNEY'S NINE OLD MEN) and significant work on Disney features like FANTASIA, DUMBO, CINDERELLA and many others. Kimball also directed two Academy Award-winning animated short films (1969's IT'S TOUGH TO BE A BIRD and 1953's TOOT, WHISTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM), directed films for television and wrote a live-action musical before retiring from Disney in 1973. OSMOSIS JONES director and former Union president Tom Sito recalls Kimball's legacy, saying: "His free spirit and nonconformist attitude in very conformist times demonstrates to generations to come how to work in an administered corporate climate yet remain an artist." Kimball was also well-known as the creator and leader of a Dixieland jazz band, the Firehouse Five Plus Two, and as an avid model train collector. In a press release, Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company, noted, "Ward's passing is a tremendous loss to the animation community and to our Studio. He was a brilliant animator and filmmaker with a distinctive style and humor all his own. From his contributions to the re-design of Mickey Mouse in 1938 and his animation on such classics as SNOW WHITE, PINOCCHIO and DUMBO, to his unbounded imagination on the trilogy of programs devoted to space exploration and his award-winning shorts, Ward has left his artistic mark on all of us. He was a wonderful character himself and as entertaining in real life as the ones he created on screen. He was a remarkable talent and we will miss him enormously." Kimball is survived by his wife of 66 years, Betty. The couple has three children -- John Kimball (a longtime Disney employee), Kelly Kimball and Chloe Lord -- as well as five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Services will be private with plans for a remembrance to be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to any of the following: Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA); Ward Kimball Memorial Fund (California Institute of the Arts, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia, CA); The Cartoon Art Museum (San Francisco, CA); or the Orange Empire Railroad Museum (Perris, CA).