Ollie Johnston, veteran Live Steamer and the last of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men", passed away on 2008-04-14.
I met Ollie the first time at the Disney Studio in 1976, and have visited him several times over the years. I treasure the correspondence we've kept up for over 30 years, discussing everything about steam and animation.
He was a dear friend, extremely talented, yet affable and modest.
He animated many of Disney's most beloved characters: Pinocchio, Bambi, Baloo, Bernard and Bianca, to name just a few.
He built a backyard railroad at his home in Flintridge, CA, where he ran three 1 inch scale engines, and he also restored and ran a full-size narrow-gauge Porter engine on his property in Julian, CA.
We miss him!
May he rest in peace.
Ollie's Backyard Railroad
See also La Canada Valley Railroad.
Ollie's loved treasure, the full-size narrow gauge engine, named "Marie E." was sold to John Lasseter, the CEO of the PIXAR animation studio, famous for "Toy Story" and "Monsters, Inc.". Don Young made designs in 1" and 1-1/2" scale of this Porter engine, and many live steam models have been built of it.
The pictures below were shot during an unforgettable trip to California in 1993 - Ollie let us ride on his train (and even drive!)
Here's his other miniature steam engine, a Pacific, built in 1949 by Laurence Hiney.
Fate of the Railroad
Dan Smith reported the fate of the Johnston home at 748 Flintridge Ave., La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011:
- Ollie Johnston had a Cliff May house with a miniature steam train on the same hill, but it was demolished after his death in 2008.