Friday 11 February 2011


I am marking the passing of another Disney legend: animator Bill Justice, who died yesterday, one day after his 97th birthday.

As I noted in my obituary for The Guardian, it was in 1937, while America was in the throes of the Great Depression, that aspiring portrait painter, William Justice responded to a press advertisement and applied to the Disney studio for a job. The salary was $12 a week and it was for a 30-day try out. When he eventually retired, in 1979, he had been working at the studio for 42 years!

Bill, who never lost his ebullient enthusiasm for his work, contributed to many of the studio's most famous feature films, including Bambi, as well as many short cartoons, among them, most of those featuring that Donald Duck-baiting duo, Chip 'n' Dale, and the experimental stop-frame animated film Noah's Ark, which received an Academy Award nomination.

Bill also worked on the Disney TV show, The Mickey Mouse Club (he directed the opening credits), created the special effects for the 'Spoonful of Sugar' sequence in the multi-Oscar-winning Mary Poppins and was responsible for numerous design-projects for attractions at the Disneyland.

Here are few of his career highlights...

William 'Bill' Justice
9 February 1914 – 10 February 2011


Steven Hartley said...

I only found that out yesterday.

I'm extremely sorry and sad to hear about the passing of Bill Justice - I think I'll write an article about it tonight.

I only wrote a letter to him a few weeks ago and hoping for a reply about his experiences, but sadly he was too ill for reply. I think that I wrote the letter too late.

His work on "Merlin Jones" and "Mary Poppins" are brilliant and his good teamwork with Xavier Atencio.

RIP Bill, I hope read my letter on time.

Who do we have left from the Disney Golden Age? I believe there is still Don Lusk, Mel Shaw, Blaine Gibson, Tyrus Wong and Xavier Attencio.

Brian Sibley said...

Steven – I'm sorry you weren't able to get a reply from Bill. He was a great character and, if he received your letter, I'm sure he would have greatly appreciated hearing from such an enthusiastic young fan.

Steven Hartley said...

Thanks Brian, I completely agree with you - I'm sure he would have been delighted to have heard from me? Although, I know a few of the Golden Age animators still alive like Don Lusk although I don't know his address.

I only found out on your blog that he directed the Mickey Mouse Club opening and that's great. I find Bill Justice's work very inspiring and one of my favourite cartoons that he did was "A Cowboy Needs a Horse".

Oh, BTW I finished and published my article on Bill and I was wondering if you were interested in seeing it on my blog - I quite like my dedicatory on Bill Justice I wrote.

Roger O B... said...

Here at the Hippodrome we loved the Noah sequence, especially the Ma Rainey-ish lady Hippo & the raffish Harry Hippo, not to mention the Noah sons skiffle group (not to be confused with Noah & the Whale pop group!).
WHNEU:...wish upon a star...

Brian Sibley said...

Steven – Yes, I enjoyed the posting on your blog: a very nice tribute!

Roger – Good! I hoped the revisionist saga of life aboard the Ark would be well received by the hippo-fanciers!