Marie Johnston, the wife of legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston, passed away last Friday, from complications due to pneumonia, at her home in Flintridge, Calif. The Johnstons celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary earlier this year.
Born Marie Worthey in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Johnston worked in the ink and paint departments at both Warner Bros. and Disney (from 1940-41), where she met her future husband. Marie and Ollie’s first big date was the premiere of Fantasia in Nov. 1940. The couple tied the knot on January 23, 1943 in the chapel at Stanford University. Johnston then gave up her professional life to concentrate on raising two sons, Rick and Ken. In later years, she accompanied her husband on his travels around the world as he promoted the legacy of Disney animation and the four books he co-authored with his late colleague, Frank Thomas.
Outgoing and vivacious, Marie made friends all over the world and was well known to Disney fans. She also made a memorable appearance in the 1995 documentary Frank and Ollie, in which she demonstrated her dancing skills with an impromptu Charleston.
Our condolences go out to Ollie and his family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the World Wildlife Fund. A family memorial service was held yesterday.