Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Legends: Ward Kimball

Ward Kimball was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 4, 1914. Following high school he enrolled at the Santa Barbara School of Art with the hopes of becoming a magazine illustrator. After watching a matinee showing of Disney’s Three Little Pigs, Ward packed his portfolio bound for Hollywood. He joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1934 and rest, as they say, is history.

During his time at Disney he took part in most all of the classic animated features. His contributions include Jiminy Cricket, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Lucifer the Cat, and others. He directed two Academy Award winning short subjects; Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom and It’s Tough to Be a Bird. The latter featured both live action and animation. Ward produced and directed three space films for the Disneyland television show. In the 1960’s he helped to write the story and script treatment’s for Babe’s in Toyland.

Along with a few select others, Ward became known as one of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men”.

Kimball once remarked that as long as it didn’t interfere with his animation work, Walt permitted his “second career”; that of trombone player for the Firehouse Five Plus Two. Along with Danny Alguire, Harper Goff, Clarke Mallery, Monte Mountjoy, Ed Penner, and Frank Thomas, the group produced at least 13 albums and played various venues between the 1940’s and early 1970’s.

Like Walt Disney, Kimball also had an enthusiastic love of the railroad. He had a full size locomotive that he operated in his three acre backyard. His railroad was called the Grizzly Flat Railroad. He also helped build the Carolwood Pacific Railroad in Walt’s backyard.

Kimball retired from Walt Disney Studios in 1972 and was honored as a Disney Legend in 1989. He died in Los Angeles on July 8, 2002.

(Editors Note: Kimball also worked on one of my favorite extinct attractions, The World of Motion. I did not know this. The next time I am in Epcot and look at the Test Track building, I will pause for a moment and be thankful for people like Ward Kimball. He, and those like him, have given us all so much joy.)

(Photo credit: The Disney Legends website Wikipedia)

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