About the Column

The best way to learn Disney history is to get it from the people who helped make it. Rolly Crump made a lot of Disney history.

Rolly was hired by Walt Disney Studios in 1952 to work as an artist and animator on such classic movies as Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and 101 Dalmations. In 1959, Rolly joined WED ('Walter Elias Disney'), the original name for Walt Disney Imagineering. At WED, Rolly became one of the chief designers for such classic attractions as Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tiki Room, and It's a Small World.

Rolly worked closely with Walt Disney for many years. The friendship between the two men and Rolly's long tenure with the company puts him in an increasingly rare position: he can relate important episodes of early Disney history first-hand, and he can do so without notes or sources because he experienced it himself.

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FROM: The Truth of the Matter Is Published Mondays

Rolly Crump on Bob Gurr, Part 1

Lennon and McCartney? How about Crump and Gurr. As Rolly relates, some of his best experiences while working at Disney involved working with fellow (and future) Disney Legend Bob Gurr. This week, the duo make an orchestra from auto parts.

As I was working on the Ford Pavilion for the 1964 World's Fair, Walt Disney came to me and said:

"Rolly, I don't like people having to stand in line without being entertained. I want you to design an orchestra for me..."

The Ford Pavilion was expected to draw quite a long line at the World's Fair, with the payoff a chance to sit in a brand-new Ford automobile. In those days, people would stand in long lines to do that. And Walt wanted them entertained.

So I made a bunch of drawings for a wild little orchestra and showed them to Walt. He liked the drawings enough to schedule a work session, during which we talked for quite a while about how best to turn my drawings into an orchestra.

I'm not exactly sure how it came about, but when the work session was over, Walt and I had decided to create the orchestra from automobile parts.

I knew, immediately, that I'd want to work on this project with Bob Gurr, given his background with Ford Motors. I told Bob that I needed him to come over to WED and help me pick out car parts for my orchestra.

Bob brought with him a Ford parts catalog and we spent several days deciding which parts we'd take apart and then weld back together in the shape of trumpets and the other instruments in the orchestra. Some were easy - hubcaps for cymbals - others more difficult. But Bob and I had a great time working together, and Walt loved the results. The orchestra became a very popular piece of animation for the Ford Pavilion.

I liked working with Bob because he always made me look good, and I always seemed to get the credit. He's such a sweet guy.

If you'd like to hear a few stories directly from Rolly himself, buy 'A Walk in the Park with Rolly Crump', an hour-long audio tour available from Kenbow Communications in which Rolly takes you for a stroll down Disneyland's Main Street through the areas of the park that he had a hand in creating. It's the best $4.95 you'll ever spend.

You can also hear on iTunes Rolly's interview with DisneyDispatch columnist Jeff Heimbuch on iTunes for free (or download it if you don't have iTunes), and you can read an excerpt of it in a recent installment of Jeff's column, From the Mouth of the Mouse.