Ward Walrath Kimball (March 4, 1914 – July 8, 2002) born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was an animator for the Walt Disney Studios. He was one of Walt Disney's team of animators, known as Disney's Nine Old Men.

He was also a jazz trombonist. He founded and led the seven-piece Dixieland band Firehouse Five Plus Two, in which he played trombone.



While Kimball was a brilliant draftsman, he preferred to work on comical characters rather than realistic human designs. Animating came easily to him and he was constantly looking to do things differently. Because of this, Walt Disney called Ward a genius in the book The Story of Walt Disney. While there were many talented animators at Disney, Ward's efforts stand out as unique.

Kimball created several classic Disney characters including the Crows in Dumbo; Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland; the Mice and Lucifer the Cat from Cinderella; and Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio. He also animated the famous "Three Caballeros" musical number from the Disney film of the same name.

In 1953 Kimball became a director and was responsible for the Academy Award-winning short Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, and three Disney television shows about outer space that put the United States into the space program. He received an Academy Award for the short animated cartoon It's Tough to Be a Bird.[1]

Kimball was profiled by producer Jerry Fairbanks in his Paramount Pictures film short series Unusual Occupations.[2] This 35mm Magnacolor film short was released theatrically in 1944; it focused on Kimball's backyard railroad and full-sized locomotive.

Kimball was also a jazz trombonist. He founded and led the seven-piece Dixieland band Firehouse Five Plus Two, in which he played trombone. The band made at least 13 LP records and toured clubs, college campuses and jazz festivals from the 1940s to early 1970s. Kimball once said that Walt Disney permitted the second career as long as it did not interfere with his animation work.

Kimball continued to work at Disney until 1974, working on the Disney anthology television series, being one of the writers for Babes in Toyland, creating animation for Mary Poppins, directing the animation for Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and working on titles for feature films such as The Adventures Of Bullwhip Griffin and Million Dollar Duck. His last staff work for Disney was producing and directing the Disney TV show The Mouse Factory, which ran from 1972 to 1974. He continued to do various projects on his own, even returning todo some publicity tours for the Disney corporation. He also worked on the World of Motion attraction for Disney's EPCOT Center.

Kimball also produced two editions of a volume titled Art Afterpieces,[3] in which he revised various well-known works of art, such as putting Mona Lisa's hair up in curlers, showing Whistler's Mother watching TV, and adding a Communist flag and Russian boots to Pinkie.

While his only two acting appearances on film were an uncredited role as a jazz musician (with his Firehouse Five Plus Two) in Hit Parade of 1951 and as an IRS Chief in Mike Jittlov's The Wizard of Speed and Time, Kimball served as host of the "Man and the Moon" episode of Disneyland in 1956. He appeared as himself in an episode of the popular TV show You Bet Your Life hosted by Groucho Marx on March 18, 1954, which is now available in a DVD box-set from He hosted the second season of the 1992 PBS series Tracks Ahead. That season has since been repackaged to feature current host Spencer Christian.

As recounted in Neal Gabler's biography of Walt Disney,[4] Ward Kimball was a key figure in spreading the urban legend that Disney had left instructions for his body to be preserved by cryonics after his death.

Amid Amidi wrote a biography of Kimball, Full Steam Ahead: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball that was projected for publication in the fall of 2012.[5] However, publication of the biography was cancelled in February 2013, presumably due to pressure from the Disney corporation.[6]


  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (The Dwarfs {deleted scenes "Music In Your Soup" and "The Lodge Meeting"}; the Vultures)
  • Pinocchio (Jiminy Cricket)
  • Fantasia (Bacchus and his pet unicorn donkey)
  • The Reluctant Dragon (the Dragon and the birds)
  • Dumbo (The Crows; a few scenes of Dumbo and Timothy Mouse)
  • Saludos Amigos (Pedro)
  • The Three Caballeros (Donald Duck; José Carioca; Panchito; Title musical number)
  • Make Mine Music (Band in "Casey at the Bat"; Peter, Ivan, Sasha, Sonia, the Wolf, and the Hunters in "Peter and the Wolf"; Willy the Whale)
  • Fun and Fancy Free (Jiminy Cricket; Donald Duck)
  • Melody Time (Hoedown caller, Hoedown dancers, Indians, and Hoedown band in "Johnny Appleseed"; Donald Duck, José Carioca, Aracuan Bird, and the butterflies in "Blame it on the Samba"; Pecos Bill and his horse, coyote cubs, various animals, rabbit, rattlesnake, vultures, cattle, rustlers, and painted Indians in "Pecos Bill")
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (train chase sequence; Ichabod Crane and his horse)
  • Cinderella (Lucifer; Jaq; Gus; The Mice)
  • Alice in Wonderland (The White Rabbit {getting hit in the face with butter by The Mad Hatter}; Tweedledee and Tweedledum; The Cheshire Cat {one scene}; The Mad Hatter; The March Hare; The Walrus and the Carpenter; The Oysters; The Dormouse)
  • Peter Pan (The Indian Chief; Squaw and her baby; Girl; Brave; Mother-in-law; John Darling {one scene}; Captain Hook {a few scenes of him fighting Peter Pan on the pirate ship})
  • Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (Ludwig Von Drake)
  • Mary Poppins (the Pearly Band)

Note: At the time these films were produced it was common for one animator to animate every single character in the shot.

Grizzly Flats RailroadEdit

Along with his employer and friend Walt Disney, and fellow mate Ollie Johnston, Kimball collected old railroad ephemera. He was an avid railway enthusiast and donated his Template:RailGauge gauge collection to the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California. A full-sized steam locomotive, which Kimball ran on his private Template:Convert backyard railroad known as "Grizzly Flats Railroad" in San Gabriel, California, bears some of his original artwork on the headlamp and cab, and is on permanent display at the museum.[7]

In addition to the full-size equipment, Kimball was also an avid collector of model trains.

Kimball is credited with helping Walt Disney for the inspiration to install the Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland. Inspiration for the Disneyland Railroad also partly came from Disney's personal Template:RailGauge gauge, live steam backyard Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which Kimball had partially constructed. Kimball's Grizzly Flats train station served as the model for the Disneyland Frontierland Train Station. Engine No. 5 of the Disneyland Railroad is called Ward Kimball.[8]

Kimball's talents are also evident in the reproduction steam locomotives built for the National Park Service at the Golden Spike site at Promontory, Utah. Kimball helped match colors with an engine at the Smithsonian Institution and painted the artwork for the replicas of the Union Pacific No. 119 and Central Pacific Jupiter built by O'Connor Engineering Laboratories for the Park Service.[9]

In recognition to his love of railroading and support of the Orange Empire Railway Museum, the Perris Transit Center, where OERM historic trains travel to, is dedicated to Mr. Kimball. In a rare deviation from its usually tight copyright policy, the Disney corporation allowed the city to decorate the transit center with Kimball's artwork. The center is currently served by Riverside Transit Agency buses, with train service projected to begin in 2011 as part of the Metrolink Perris Valley Line.[10]

File:Disneyland 200707 Number5 NewOrleansSquare.jpg


Kimball died in 2002 in Los Angeles, California of complications from pneumonia at age 88. In 2005 the Disneyland Railroad named its newly acquired Engine №5 the "Ward Kimball" in his memory.[11][12][13]


  1. "It's Tough to be a Bird". 2008. Retrieved 06 January 2008. 
  2. Template:IMDb title
  3. Art Afterpieces, ISBN 978-0-8431-0366-3
  4. Gabler, Neal: Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination (c. 2006)
  5. Pre-Order “Full Steam Ahead!,” the Ward Kimball Biography
  6. [1] ". . Yes, Chronicle Books nixed the publication of my book . . Yes, it’s my opinion that Disney’s pressure caused Chronicle to kill the project . . Yes, I am amused by the Disney Company’s inept attempt to control the personal histories of its artists . . " (Amid Amidi)
  7. Broggie, Michael, Walt Disney's Railroad Story, 2nd ed., pp.52-59, 200, The Donning Company Publishers, Virginia Beach, VA, 2006.
  8. Broggie
  9. Dowty, Robert R., Rebirth of the Jupiter and the 119: Building the Replica Locomotives at Golden Spike, p. 35, Southwest Parks & Monuments Association, Tucson, AZ, 1994.
  10. New Perris Transit Center to Honor Ward Kimball - Phase 1 Grand Opening,
  11. Mello, Michael. "New generation works Disneyland's rails," Orange County Register, Local, p. 4, 26 November 2011 [2].
  12. "Today's Orange County business briefs," Orange County Register, 16 February 2006 [3]
  13. Eades, Mark. "Disneyland Railroad engineers fire up the locomotives every morning," Orange County Register, 1 June 2010 [4].

External linksEdit

Template:Nine Old Men Template:Walt Disney Animation Studios


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