Disney’s PR department has forwarded to us the official obituary for the recently departed Marie Johnston, wife of legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston.


Marie Johnston, the wife of legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston, passed away on Friday, May 20th, from complications due to pneumonia, at her home in Flintridge, California. She was 87 years old and had been in declining health. The Johnstons celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary earlier this year.

Born Marie Worthey in Bridgeport, Connecticut on November 10, 1917, the future Mrs. Johnston came to California around 1926. She worked in the ink and paint departments at both Warner Bros. and Disney (from 1940-41). It was at the Disney lot that she first encountered Ollie Johnston. Their first big date was attending the premiere of Fantasia in November, 1940. The couple was married on January 23, 1943 at in the chapel at Stanford University (where Ollie’s father was head of the Romance Languages department).

Johnston gave up her professional life to concentrate on raising two sons, Rick and Ken. In 1945, she and her husband began building their dream home on two acres of land in Flintridge, California. Marie worked with noted architect Cliff May to design the house.

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). The Johnstons traveled to Japan, China, Australia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy, among other places.

She was also active in numerous community affairs including the La Canada-Flintridge Orthopedic Guild, the Assistance League, and the Cub Scouts.

With her vibrant personality and outgoing nature, Marie Johnston made friends all over the world and was well known to Disney aficionados. She made a memorable appearance in the 1995 documentary, Frank and Ollie, for which she demonstrated her impressive dancing skills with an impromptu Charleston.

Johnston is survived by her husband of 62 years, Ollie Johnston, and his two sons, Rick Johnston (and his wife, Teya) and Ken Johnston (and his wife, Carolyn). She also leaves behind two nieces (Grace Bartlome and Suzanne Bartlome), and a nephew (John Bartlome). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the World Wildlife Fund. A family memorial service was held on Wednesday (5/25)