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Nordli, nicknamed "Ernie", was a talented artist whose work had an appealing modern sensibility. He started at Disney in 1936 and served as an art director/layout artist on Dumbo and Fantasia, and worked on many of the studio's shorts through the mid-1940s, including such Donald Duck shorts as The Plastics Inventor and Donald's Double Trouble. He left Disney and in the 1950s became the layout artist for Chuck Jones, in the absence of Maurice Noble. He was the layout man on eight Jones shorts, including some memorable films like Broom-Stick Bunny and Rocket-bye Baby (both 1956).
After his short stint with Jones, Nordli returned to Disney where he worked on Sleeping Beauty and One Hundred and One Dalmatians, on which he was a layout stylist. He played an important role in designing the background drawing style on Dalmatians.
Nordli continued working until his death. His later credits include The Alvin Show, Gay Purr-ee (1962), Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! (1964), The Man from Button Willow (1965) and the show Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero. Nordli also designed many comic book covers for Dell in the early-1950s.
He died in April 1968 in San Francisco, California, aged 55. No explanation has ever been offered as to the cause of his death.
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