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Arts Rancho Santa Fe

Documentary, discussion highlights work of animators

ESCONDIDO — On Aug. 31, The California Center for the Arts, Escondido hosts a panel discussion and screening of “Growing Up with Nine Old Men.” The documentary was produced by children of Walt Disney’s core group of animators affectionately referred to as the “Nine Old Men.” Enjoy the 30-minute film and discussion with Ted Thomas and Ken Lounsbery, children of two of the Nine Old Men.

The screening event coincides with The Center’s current museum exhibition, The Art of Fantasia and Other Disney Classics: The David Yaruss Collection, which runs now through Sept. 7.

Between all nine, (Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Frank Thomas) the core group of animators had their hands in creating and animating Mickey Mouse from his origin in 1927; directed and drew early Disney greats such as Snow White, Pinocchio, and Fantasia; designed many characters and elements for Disneyland; and trained animators who would go on to shape the Disney landscape through the ‘70s and ‘80s.

In honor of a boy who would never grow up, the documentary was included as a bonus feature on the 60-year anniversary release of Peter Pan on Blu-Ray. Thomas’ dad, Frank, was the lead animator on the film, originally released in 1953.

“In catching up with the other children of the Nine Old Men, I was reminded of how ‘normal’ our childhoods were,” says Thomas. “We did all of the things that kids do everywhere, except we did them in the company of some of the most talented and influential artists of the 20th century.”

A discussion between Thomas and Lounsbery will be moderated by Monica Medina, director of diversity, engagement and grants at KPBS.

During exhibitions, the Museum at the Center is open Thursdays through Saturdays (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and Sundays (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.).

Tickets are $8; members and children under 12 get in free. Senior (60+), military and student discounts are available. For additional ticket information, the public can call (760) 839-4138 or visit


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