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Thursday, December 15, 2005


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Born: September 5, 1912
Died: September 8, 2004



Bio Summary

Thomas, born in Santa Monica, graduated from Stanford University, where he majored in art, drew cartoons for the school newspaper called Chaparral and other articles which were printed in the San Francisco Chronicle. At Disney, Thomas animated on such memorable characters as Thumper in Bambi, the wicked step mother in Cinderella, the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, and Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

After retiring from Disney, both Thomas and Johnston began writing a book about animation titled "Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life" which took 5 years to finish and was published in 1981. It is considered "the bible" among character animators. Thomas was also part of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men," which Disney jokingly dubbed Thomas and other top animators. The phrase derived from a description of the Supreme Court by President Franklin Roosevelt. Thomas also expressed his musical talents as the piano player in the popular jazz group, The Firehouse Five Plus Two formed in 1940s and consisted of mostly Disney animators. Thomas and Johnston were also the title subjects of a heartfelt 1995 feature-length documentary entitled "Frank and Ollie" written and directed by Frank's son, Ted Thomas.

Early Life/Family

Thomas went to Fresno State College and became president of his sophmore class. At Fresno State, he wrote and directed a film spoofing college life for a school project. The film became a hit in local theaters which earned his school some money and sparked his ambition to get into the arts. He then went to Stanford where he met his best friend Ollie Johnston. After college Thomas and Johnston both came south to attend Chouinard's Art Institute where they studied with illustrator Pruett Carter.


Career Outline

Comments On Style



Frank was always planning, keeping everything orderly, even in wild, crazy actions. At Disney, he was very ambitious and was a political player.


Frank was an assistant animator or in-betweener on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and was given the job of animating the dwarfs in the scene where they grieve over Snow White's death, the most crucial and emotional scene in the entire movie. He was never entirely satisfied with it, and the sequence ended up being trimmed.



Mickey's Circus (1936) (animator) (uncredited)
Mickey's Elephant (1936) (animator) (uncredited) 
More Kittens (1936) (animator) 
Little Hiawatha (1937) (animator) (uncredited) 
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (animator: dwarfs) 
Brave Little Tailor (1938) (animator) (uncredited) 
The Practical Pig (1939) (animator) 
The Pointer (1939) (animator) 
Pinocchio (1940) (animation director) (as Franklin Thomas) 
Fantasia (1940) (animator) 
Dumbo (1941) (supervising animator) (uncredited) 
Bambi (1942) (supervising animator) (as Franklin Thomas) 
The Winged Scourge (1943) (animator) (uncredited) 
Education for Death (1943) (animator) (uncredited) The Making of the Nazi (USA: complete title) 
Victory Vehicles (1943) (animator) 
The Three Caballeros (1944) (animator: "The Flying Gauchito") (as Franklin Thomas) 
Melody Time (1948) (animator: "Johnny Appleseed") (uncredited) 
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) (directing animator) 
Cinderella (1950) (animator) 
Alice in Wonderland (1951) (directing animator) 
Peter Pan (1953) (directing animator) 
Lady and the Tramp (1955) (directing animator) 
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958) (animator) 
Sleeping Beauty (1959) (directing animator) 
Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) (animator) (uncredited) 
101 Dalmatians (1961) (directing animator) 
The Sword in the Stone (1963) (directing animator) 
Mary Poppins (1964) (animator) 
The Jungle Book (1967) (directing animator) 
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) (animator) 
The Aristocats (1970) (animator) 
Robin Hood (1973) (directing animator) (story sequences) 
Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too! (1974) (supervising animator) 
The Madcap Adventures of Mr. Toad (1975) (animator) 
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) (animator) 
The Rescuers (1977) (key animator) 
The Fox and the Hound (1981) (supervising animator) 

Actor - filmography 

I Give My Love (1934) (uncredited) .... Art Student
Man at Large (1941) (uncredited) .... Dr. G.G. Cataloni
Saludos Amigos (1942) (uncredited) .... Artist
The Iron Giant (1999) (voice) .... Train Engineer #2
The Incredibles (2004) (voice) .... Additional Voices

Writer - filmography

The Aristocats (1970) 
The Rescuers (1977) (script) 


Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1980

Related Links

A-HAA: Filmography: Bambi
A-HAA: History: Dispatch From Disney's 1943
A-HAA: Biography: Clair Weeks' Goodbye Book 1952

Bibliographic References

"Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation" by John Canemaker

Contributors To This Listing

Tom Kidd

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