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 Leaves His Mark on a Rock

In 1957, Rolly Crump was working for Disney in Animation, but he still hadn't met Walt. So, of course, he'd want to make a good first impression, and the opportunity arose when Hazel George asked Rolly's help in creating Walt's Christmas present.

Back in 1957 or 1958, I was working in Animation, and I still hadn't met Walt Disney.

Several of us from Animation were in the habit of painting pictures on beach rocks - the smooth little dark grey rocks that you could easily find on California beaches.

At Least It Wasn't a Brick

Hazel George, who worked as the nurse for Animation, heard that I was painting on rocks, and she called me in one day to talk about it. She wanted me to paint a rock that she could give to Walt Disney as a Christmas present.

I was happy to do it, and I asked her what she wanted me to paint on the rock.

"One word," she said, "Walt's favorite word: 'Shit'".

She was serious, too. "Okay," I told her.

I went down to the beach and found a little rock, about 2-3 inches long, and drew 'shit' on it in white paint.

But Hazel couldn't just hand Walt the rock. We needed a fancy way to package it.

In those days, I often went to Little Tokyo to buy some of the fun stuff they sold there. I remembered having seen beautiful matchboxes, very small, with a tiny drawer that slid in and out. It was the perfect size for the rock.

So I bought one of those matchboxes, wrapped up the rock in tissue paper, slid it into the matchbox, and then gave it to Hazel.

About a week after Christmas, I went down to see Hazel and asked her if she had given the rock to Walt for Christmas. She said that she had, and that he absolutely loved it.

"And, Rolly, you got screen credit!"

More Rocks from Rolly

I kept up with my rock painting, because I liked how I could use the rock as the background for a cartoon.

For example, I painted a tiny figure of Bluebeard on one rock and then wrote underneath it: "I dig chicks". On another rock, I painted a cross-eyed Betsy Ross in front of an American flag with the red and white stripes going the wrong way, and the caption "Betsy, you goofed". And on still another rock, I had Tarzan and an ape in a staring contest, with the words "Me Tarzan, You Jane" - and the ape with a very strange look on his face.

I still have these rocks, and others besides, hanging in my bathroom.

Next Week:
The Story of Walt's Strawberry Waffles

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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