fthomas.jpgDuring his four decades with Walt Disney Studios, Franklin Rosborough Thomas helped create dozens of memorable animation moments. He drew the dancing penguins in “Mary Poppins,” Thumper’s ice skating lesson in “Bambi,” and the romantic scene of two dogs sharing a single strand of spaghetti in “Lady and the Tramp.”
Born in Santa Monica, Calif., Thomas attended Fresno State College and Stanford University. At Stanford, he met Ollie Johnston, a fellow artist who would become his life-long friend and collaborator. After graduation, they moved to Los Angeles to study with illustrator Pruett Carter at the Chouinard Art Institute.
Thomas and Johnston started working at Disney in 1934, and were part of the team that created “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the company’s first full-length animated feature. After taking a three-year break to serve in the U.S. Air Force during the World War II, Thomas returned to Disney to supervise and/or direct the animation of the title character in “Pinocchio,” the wicked stepmother in “Cinderella,” Ichabod Crane in “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” and Captain Hook in “Peter Pan.”
Known within the company as members of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” Thomas and Johnston retired from the studio in 1978. They penned four books together, and were named Disney Legends in 1989. They were also the subject of the 1995 documentary, “Frank and Ollie,” which was written and directed by Thomas’s son, Theodore.
Thomas died on Sept. 8. Cause of death was not released. He was 92.