Frank Thomas


Frank Thomas, 92, a top Walt Disney artist who animated two dogs romantically nibbling a single strand of spaghetti in the 1955 Disney film "Lady and the Tramp," died Sept. 8 at his home in La Canada Flintridge, Calif. He had been in declining health since a cerebral hemorrhage this year.

In his 43-year career at Disney, Mr. Thomas, often working with old friend and collaborator Ollie Johnston, also animated the dancing penguins in "Mary Poppins" and Thumper teaching Bambi how to ice-skate.

Mr. Thomas started working at Walt Disney Studios in 1934 and was a member of the team that created "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), the first full-length animated feature.

He also directed the animation of the title character in "Pinocchio" and drew the wicked stepmother in "Cinderella," the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland" and Captain Hook in "Peter Pan."

His collaboration with Johnston was the subject of the 1995 documentary film, "Frank and Ollie," written and directed by Theodore Thomas, the animator's son.

Ernie Ball

Guitar-String Maker

Ernie Ball, 74, a pioneer maker of rock-and-roll guitar strings used by legions of artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Merle Travis, died Sept. 10 in San Luis Obispo, Calif. No cause of death was reported.

In 1958, Mr. Ball opened a shop that sold only guitars. By 1962, after customers complained that they couldn't find lighter-gauge, flexible strings for their instruments, Mr. Ball created sets of strings he called "Slinkys."

His strings and instruments, now exported to more than 70 countries, evolved into a business with annual sales of $40 million.

Elly Annie Schneider


Elly Annie Schneider, 90, an actress who played one of the Munchkin villagers in the "The Wizard of Oz," died Sept. 6. Ms. Schneider, who used the screen names Tiny Earles and Tiny Doll, died of a heart ailment.

Born in Stolpen, Germany, she moved to the United States in 1925 to join three siblings who were also midgets. She was 39 inches tall and weighed 46 pounds.

The four traveled to California to appear in the "Wizard of Oz" and were among the little people who welcomed Judy Garland's Dorothy to Munchkinland in a memorable 10-minute scene. They also appeared in "Sailors, Beware," a 1927 Laurel and Hardy short, and the cult classic "Freaks" in 1932.

As recently as two months ago, Ms. Schneider entertained friends by singing songs from "The Wizard of Oz" and her circus shows, despite being legally blind and frail from a heart attack and stroke. Her death leaves nine of the original 124 Munchkins surviving.

Lisa Shelkin

Magazine Editor

Lisa B. Shelkin, 43, a former editor for Vogue and Ladies Home Journal, died of brain cancer Sept. 8 at her home in Old Tappan, N.J.

She began her magazine career as an assistant at Ladies Home Journal before leaving for Vogue, where she was managing editor.

She later was a high-ranking editor for two other Conde Nast magazines, Woman and Self, before leaving the company in 1994 after 10 years. A book she co-wrote, "Fresh Flower Arranging: A Year of Flowers," was published that year.