The Truth of the Matter Is

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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The Many Names of Rolly Crump

How Rolly Became 'Rolly' to Walt Disney

It's my honor to welcome Rolly Crump to Disney Dispatch.

In this opening 'arc' of his new column, The Truth of the Matter Is, Rolly will share some of his many personal memories of Walt Disney. His stories concern not so much Walt the icon but Walt the man: a decent, humorous, down-to-earth genius. The real Walt Disney.

Rolly Crump is now a familiar name. But years ago, when Rolly began his Disney career, Walt wasn't quite sure what to call him. Here's the story of how Walt finally settled on 'Rolly' ... and how it stuck!

I first met Walt Disney when I joined WED in 1959.

Walt said, "Roland, it's nice to have you aboard."

"Thank you, sir; thank you, Mr. Disney," I replied.

Walt then said, "Roland, the name is Walt, and don't you forget it".

"Yes, sir, I'll do that".

From Roland to Rolly

I'd been sitting in on meetings with Walt for over a year when all of a sudden he started calling me Owen.

I finally figured out that the reason he called me Owen was because there was a writer who wrote for the live action pictures and his name was OWEN Crump. I think Walt mixed up his Owen and his Roland.

So I was Owen Crump for awhile, and then I became Orland. I don't know where that came from. I spoke with Walt's daughter one time and she said that Walt always had trouble with names.

But as far as I was concerned, Walt could call me whatever he wanted.

The coup de grace happened one day when Walt and I were in a meeting with Yale Gracey to talk about The Haunted Mansion. Walt turned to Yale and said, "I want you to work on the Mansion together with [and here he pointed to me] What's His Name".

So I became "What's His Name', which I got a big kick out of.

Rolly: A Round-Trip!

Eventually, though, Walt gave me the nickname Rolly, and that's what has stayed with me.

The interesting thing is that I was called Rolly when I was a little kid because I'm a junior - Roland Fargo Crump, Jr. - and so my family used to call me little Rolly, and now here I was being called Rolly again by Walt Disney.

Bob Gurr and Marty Sklar still call me Orland, but for everyone else it's Walt's nickname of Rolly that has stuck.

Next Monday:
Rolly will have the first of a three-part tale about The Tower of the Four Winds with more personal recollections of Walt Disney. Believe me, you don't want to miss it!

Rolly has thousands of tales to tell and he'll be around for a long time telling them.

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.

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