Marie Johnston, the wife of legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston, passed away on May 20 from complications due to pneumonia, at her home in Flintridge, California. She was 87 years old and had been in declining health. The Johnstons celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary earlier this year.
Born Marie Worthey in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Nov. 10, 1917, the future Mrs. Johnston came to California around 1926. She worked in the ink and paint departments at both Warner Bros. and Disney (from 1940-41). It was at the Disney lot that she first encountered Johnston. Their first big date was attending the premiere of FANTASIA in November 1940. The couple was married on Jan. 23, 1943 at in the chapel at Stanford University (where his father was head of the Romance Languages department).
Marie gave up her professional life to concentrate on raising two sons, Rick and Ken. In 1945, she and her husband began building their dream home on two acres of land in Flintridge. Marie worked with noted architect Cliff May to design the house.
In later years, she accompanied her husband on his travels around the world (including Japan, China, Australia, Russia, the U.K. and Italy) as he promoted the legacy of Disney animation and the four books he co-authored (with his late friend and colleague, Frank Thomas). She was also active in numerous community affairs including the La Canada-Flintridge Orthopedic Guild, the Assistance League and the Cub Scouts.
With her vibrant personality and outgoing nature, Marie was well known to Disney aficionados. She made a memorable appearance in the 1995 documentary, FRANK AND OLLIE, for which she demonstrated her impressive dancing skills with an impromptu Charleston.
In addition to Ollie, Marie is survived by two sons, Rick Johnston (and his wife, Teya) and Ken Johnston (and his wife, Carolyn). She also leaves behind two nieces (Grace Bartlome and Suzanne Bartlome), and a nephew (John Bartlome). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the World Wildlife Fund (www:worldwildlife.org)A family memorial service was held on May 25.