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

Walt's Strawberry Waffles

Getting stories from the source, from people like Rolly Crump, often leads to little gems like these which show Walt Disney in private moments, unscripted and unexpected, and which shed new light on the man behind myth and Mouse.

This is a pair of short little tales that reveal some of Walt's simple, genuine - and sometimes salty - humor.

Waffles with Strawberries... and Sycophants

One morning, Walt was sitting in a restaurant with some of his executives. They're all looking at their menus, and the waitress comes over to take orders.

The first executive orders ham and eggs.

Next, it's Walt's turn: he wants waffles with strawberries on top.

Before the waitress has even had a chance to write it down, the first executive pipes up to say: "That sounds really good - you know what, change my order to waffles with strawberries on top."

The second executive puts down his menu and says: "That DOES sound good. I'll have waffles with strawberries on top.

Of course, the third executive orders strawberries with waffles on top, too.

Walt got up from his chair and said: "Son of a bitch!" before walking out of the restaurant.

He didn't get his waffles that morning, and I'm not sure if any of the others stayed around to get theirs, either.

"Oh, for Christ's Sake!"

One of Walt's favorite sayings was "oh, for Christ's sake". It was his basic response to whatever irritated him. In private, of course, it was never a problem, but every so often Walt would forget he was in public.

I remember doing a television show with Walt back in the early 1960s, possibly about the Museum of the Weird, and we had our lines on a monitor to read.

It was always fun to film shows with Walt, because he said whatever he wanted. Sometimes he'd read from the monitor, other times he wouldn't.

It could be a challenge to keep up with him.

During that television show, Walt began a spiel and I was paying close attention so I'd know what to say when it was my turn. All of a sudden, he stopped and put his hand up.

"Oh, Jesus, I said 'Christ'."

We laughed, of course, and Walt shook his head a little and smiled.

Walt was such a sweet guy!

Then he started speaking again, and this time, it went off without a hitch - though I'm sure if you look closely at that film, you'll see the smallest of smiles on my face.

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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