The Nine Old Men: How the Group of Disney Animators Inspired Disney Legend Andreas Deja

Ward Kimball

The next ‘character’ who Deja felt deserved his own talk was Ward Kimball. Kimball’s personality was just as unique as his distinct animation ability.


Ward was born in and spent most of childhood in Minnesota. It was after high school that Ward set out to California to enroll in Santa Barbara School of Art to pursue illustration. After seeing Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs, Ward decided to head to Hollywood to join The Walt Disney Studios. Ward had been contributing his art since 1934, with such memorable characters as Jiminy Cricket, Panchito, The Reluctant Dragon, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

During the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Ward spent 8 months working on a scene with the Seven Dwarfs eating soup for supper. “…it was very fun and everybody laughed and so did Walt,” said Ward. Later, Walt called Ward into his office to tell him that he was going to take the soup scene out of the film and explained why. Walt felt that it wasn’t adding to the flow of the overall film, he needed to get back to the “witch.” As much as it may have hurt him, Ward later admitted that it was the right decision.

Later in his career with Disney, Ward produced and directed a number of different live-action and animated short-subject films, including Academy Award-winning “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom.”


Ward was also a trombonist in the Dixieland jazz band Firehouse Five Plus Two.


When Ward wasn’t busy with his art or playing in his Dixieland jazz band, Firehouse Five Plus Two, he devoted his time to his railroad passion. It is said that the first recognizable sketch that he made was of a steam locomotive. In 1948, Ward was invited to attend the Chicago Railroad Fair with fellow rail enthusiast, Walt Disney.

walt and ward 2

Ward owned and operated a full-size locomotive on his two-acre property. He and another animator from the Nine Old Men played a major role in assisting Walt with his own interest in developing and operating the Carolwood Pacific Railroad in Walt’s backyard.

walt and ward 1

Ward passed away in his Los Angeles home on July 8th, 2002, at the age of 88.


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