Former Disney animator and children’s book illustrator John Parr Miller died recently at home in Manhasset, N.Y. The 91-year-old artist is credited with helping to establish Disney’s character model department in 1937 and contributed to the look of beloved screen characters from such films as Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo.
At the time of his death Miller had a number of childrens books still in circulation, including Follow Me (1998) and several entries in Random Houses enduring Little Golden Books series. Other titles he illustrated include Do You Know Colors?, Little Bunny Follows His Nose, The Sweet Smell of Christmas, The Wonderful House, Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather, I Am a Mouse, Little Turtle’s Big Adventure and Jingle Bells: A New Story.
Following a stint at Grand Central Art School in New York, Miller moved to Hollywood during the depression. He found work in Disneys story department in 1934 and saw the studio expand from short films to features before leaving to serve in World War II. After the war, he and other Disney veterans were recruited by Golden Books to create images that would be enjoyed by generations.
Miller continued to work as a freelance illustrator into his 80s. Samples of his work were shown this month in a Golden Books exhibition at the Donnell Library Center opposite the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is survived by his half brother, George E. Miller, also of Manhasset.