John Lounsbery was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised in Colorado. He attended East Denver High School and the Art Institute of Denver. While attending the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles, an instructor sent him to interview with Walt Disney. Lounsbery was hired by Disney on July 2, 1935, beginning as an assistant animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He went on to work on numerous other short features in the 1940s, while continuing to serve as part of the animating team on nearly all of Disney's most famous feature-length animated films. In the 1970s, he was promoted to director and directed Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too! and co-directed The Rescuers.
John Lounsbery died on February 13, 1976, in Los Angeles, California, of heart failure during cardiac surgery, aged 64. At the time of his death, he was working on the The Rescuers and still directing at the Walt Disney Studios. He was named a Disney Legend in 1989.