While this isn’t news specific to Walt Disney World, it’s certainly important for the franchise as a whole – Bill Justice passed away this past Thursday of natural causes in his Californian nursing home, a day after he reached his 97th birthday.
While you might not know Bill Justice by name, you certainly know some of the animations he worked on, including Fantasia, Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Bambi. In addition to working on animated films, he directed the animated Mickey Mouse Club opening. He was also the principle animator for the characters Thumper from Bambi and the mischievous Chip ‘n Dale.
Bill Justice was born on February 9, 1914 in Dayton, Ohio, but spent much of his childhood in Indianapolis. He studied portrait drawing at the John Herron Art Institute, which is now part of Indiana University. He moved out to California after he graduated in 1935 to seek his fortune.
On top of his long animating career, Justice worked in many facets of the Walt Disney Company. He designed the costumes for the first Disneyland Christmas Parade and also created the sketches for the first Main Street Electrical Parade. He even dabbled in stop animation in the features “The Parent Trap” and “Mary Poppins.”
In Justice’s later years, he was notorious for drawing Disney characters on paper plates and cloth napkins wherever he went. He enjoyed visiting Disney conventions whenever he could and talking with the fans.
He is survived by his wife, a daughter, and a granddaughter.