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Tag Archives: Imagineer

March 7

March 7, 2008 – Imagineer and Disney Legend Bob Gurr is Honored With a Window on Disneyland’s Main Street

Bob Gurr

“If it moves on wheels at Disneyland, I probably designed it.”

On March 7, 2008, before the park opened, Imagineer and Disney Legend Bob Gurr was honored with a window on Disneyland’s Main Street, and honor specially saved for those who had an impact on the creation and upkeep of the park. Many of Gurr’s coworkers and friends were in attendance to honor the man who helped design the old-time feel of Main Street, the Magic Skyway, and the design of the first audio-animatronic figure, President Lincoln. The window itself pays homage to Gurr’s work with Disneyland vehicles, as it calls him the “design impresario” for the “Meteor Cycle Company.”


February 6

February 6, 1934 – Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive of WDI and Disney Legend Marty Sklar is Born

Marty Sklar

“Our training was by Walt, who was always there pitching in with new ideas and improving everyone else’s input. The fire was that we were constantly breaking new ground to create deadline projects never attempted before in this business. That, I’m proud to say, has never stopped in my years at Disney.”

On February 6, 1934, Martin A. Sklar was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He attended UCLA for undergraduate studies, and serves as the editor for the Daily Bruin college newsletter. In 1955, he was recruited to create a newsletter to be sold on Main Street of Disneyland for the park’s first year: The Disneyland News. Upon graduation, Sklar joined Disney, working with Disneyland’s publicity and marketing department and creating the Vacationland magazine. In 1961, Sklar joined WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering) to work on the special shows for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. During this time, he continued to do publicity work for Walt Disney specifically, writing material to be used in publications and television; he is best known for writing the material for a special 20 minute film about EPCOT. In 1974, Sklar became the Vice President of Concepts and Planning in WDI, where he helped with the development of Epcot in Walt Disney World. He continued to rise in the ranks, with being named Vice President of Creative Development in 1979, Executive Vice President in 1982, and President and Vice Chairman in 1987. He held the last role until 1996. During his tenure, Sklar led the efforts for entertainment concepts within Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland. In 2001, Sklar was not only honored with a special award for 45 years of service in the Disney Company, and was also named a Disney Legend. In 2005, the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, Sklar was named Imagineering’s international ambassador. In 2009, after 53 years at Disney, Sklar retired.

October 13

October 13, 2008 – The 22nd Disney Legends Ceremonies Are Held

2008 DLA

“Collectively, this group has enchanted millions, young and old around the world and it is a privilege to pay tribute to them today.”

On October 13, 2008, eleven new inductees were honored at the 22nd Disney Legends ceremonies. Held in the Disney Legends Plaza in Burbank, the Legends in attendance participated in a hand-print ceremony, with their bronzed prints being hung in the plaza. The ceremony was overseen by Disney President and CEO Bob Iger, with inductees including Barbara Walters, Frank Gifford, Wayne Allwine (voice of Mickey Mouse), Russi Taylor (voice of Minnie Mouse), Bob Booth (Imagineer), Neil Gallagher (Imagineer), Toshio Kagami (Director, Chairman, and CEO of the Oriental Land Company), Burny Mattinson (animator), Walt Peregoy (animator), Dorothea Redmond (Imagineer), and Oliver Wallace (musician).

October 10

October 10, 2007 – The 2007 Disney Legends Ceremony Takes Place

Disney Legend

“…the spark that is ignited when imagination and skill combine to create a new dream.”

On October 10, 2007, the 20th Disney Legends Ceremony took place in the Legends Plaza at the Walt Disney Studios. Among those honored were President of ABC Sports Roone Arledge, animator Art Babbit, Imagineer Carl Bongirno, dancer Marge Champion, animator Dick Huemer, executive vice president Ron Logan, animator Lucille Martin, ABC CEO Thomas Murphy, composer and musician Randy Newman, animator Floyd Norman, make-up artist Bob Schiffer, and archivist Dave Smith.

September 4

September 4, 1919 – Animator, Imagineer, and Disney Legend X Atencio is Born

X Atencio

“I didn’t even know I could write music, but somehow Walt did. He tapped my hidden talents.”

On September 4, 1919, Francis Xavier “X” Atencio was born in Walsenburg, Colorado. He moved to Los Angeles in 1937 to attend the Chouinard Art Institute, which hosted classes for several Disney artists. At the urging of his instructors, he submitted his portfolio to the Studio, and in 1938 Atencio was hired by Disney as an artist. He quickly rose within the company, becoming an assistant animator in three years. When World War II broke, he served in the United States Army and was stationed in England as a photo interpreter. He came back to the studio in 1945 to work on several animated short films. In 1953, he received his first credit for the Academy Award Winning short film Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. He also lent his talents to the likes of Jack and Old Mac, Noah’s Ark, and the stop motion animated sequences in The Parent Trap and Mary Poppins. In 1965, Atencio switched gears and was asked by Walt to assist in the creation of the Primeval World diorama within WED Enterprises. He continued to work as an Imagineer, bringing his unique talents to several attractions, including penning the unforgettable songs for The Haunted Mansion (co-writing “Grim Grinning Ghosts”) and Pirates of the Caribbean (writing “A Pirate’s Life for Me”). Atencio assisted with several attractions in Walt Disney World, and traveled to Tokyo Disneyland to assist with the recordings for the Haunted Mansion. In 1984, after nearly fifty years with the company, Atencio retired. For his prolific work, he was honored as a Disney Legend in 1996.

January 28

January 28, 1939 – Imagineer and Disney Legend Ralph Kent is Born


“He said he `fell under the spell’ of Disney when he saw Pinocchio, and much of his 41 years at Disneyland and Walt Disney World was involved in various artistic usages of the Disney characters for marketing, merchandising and Imagineering.” – Imagineer and Disney Legend Marty Sklar

On January 28, 1939, Ralph Kent was born in New York. At age 10, he was so enamored with Disney that he created a giant mural of popular Disney characters in his basement. Kent also sent a letter to Walt Disney the same year, as he wanted to work for the Disney Studios. After studying art at the University of Buffalo Albright Art School, he joined the Army in 1960, working on illustrations for military training films. In 1963, Kent achieved his dream of working at Disney when he was hired to work at Disneyland as a marketing production artist, working on marketing materials for several popular attractions. Kent also designed the first set of limited-edition Mickey Mouse watches for adults, which immediately gained popularity. Over his 41 year career with the company, Kent was known as the “Keeper of the Mouse,” as he was one of the handlers for Mickey Mouse, keeping the wholesome image of the character; this title was evident in 1990, when Kent joined the Disney Design Group as a corporate trainer, teaching new artists the proper way of animating the popular characters. Kent retired from Disney in 2004, and was inducted the same year as a Disney Legend. Kent passed away at the age 68 in 2007.

October 22

October 22, 1991 – The 1991 Class of Disney Legends is Inducted


“Disney Legends honor the many individuals whose imagination, talents and dreams have created the Disney magic.”

On October 22, 1991, the 1991 class of Disney Legends was inducted, giving nine talented men and women the distinction from all ranges of Disney. They included Ken Anderson (Animation and Imagineering), Julie Andrews (Film), Carl Barks (Animation and Publishing), Mary Blair (Animation and Imagineering), Claude Coats (Animation and Imagineering), Don DaGradi (Animation and Film), Sterling Holloway (Voice), Fess Parker (Film and Television), and Bill Walsh (Film & Television). Blair, DaGradi, and Walsh were awarded posthumously.

September 3

September 3, 1910 – Imagineer and Disney Legend Yale Gracey is Born


“Whenever we needed a special effect, we went to Yale.” – John Hench, Imagineer and Disney Legend

On September 3, 1910, Yale Gracey was born in Shanghai, China. Gracey was the son of an American consul, and attended an English boarding school before moving to the United States to study at the Art Center School of Design. Gracey began his career at the Disney Studios in 1939, working as a layout artist on Pinocchio and Fantasia, as well as for several short films. During his lunch hour, Gracey would work on gadgets and models, some of which caught Walt Disney’s attention; Gracey was then offered a position in WED Enterprises to create attractions and special effects for Disneyland. He began work at WED as a research and development designer, creating several illusions that are still well-known and loved today, including the “grim, grinning ghosts” in the Haunted Mansion. Gracey also worked extensively on the attractions for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, including the Carousel of Progress. Gracey retired in 1975 after 36 years of work with the company, but continued to serve as a consultant for new attractions at Walt Disney World. He passed away on September 5, 1983. In 1999, Gracey was honored as a Disney Legend for his work as an Imagineer.

August 20

August 20, 1928 – First Female Imagineer and Disney Legend Harriet Burns is Born


“What really earned respect for Harriet Burns was her creative skill…Fred Joerger, Wathel Rogers and Harries became known as the WED Model Shop, the heartbeat of Walt’s design engine for Disneyland and beyond.” – Disney Legend Marty Sklar

On August 20, 1928, Harriet Bruns (née Tapp) was born in San Antonio, Texas. Burns studied art at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and went on to study advanced design at the University of New Mexico. She married William Burns, and in 1953, she, her husband, and their daughter moved to Los Angeles. While there, she found a job at the Dice Display Industries Cooperative Exchange designing props and interiors part-time. In 1955, after the company closed down, she was advised to apply for Disney, and started working there the same year. She began her career at Disney as a prop and set painter for the Mickey Mouse Club; she immediately stood out as the “best-dressed employee,” wearing dresses and high heels while working with saws and sanders alongside the men. Soon after, she moved up the ranks, creating the show’s color styling, and designing the Mouse Clubhouse. While there, Burns worked alongside Fred Joerger, who was a model builder for the Disneyland project.

When WED Enterprises was founded (later to be known as Walt Disney Imagineering), Burns was one of the three employees tapped to be a part of the group, alongside Joerger and Wathel Rogers. One of Burns’ first assignments was the model of Sleeping Beauty Castle, which was soon followed by designs of New Orleans Square, the Haunted Mansion, Storybook Land, and the design of the birds of The Enchanted Tiki Room. Burns also contiributed greatly to the Disney attractions at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, particularly the Carousel of Progress and the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. In 1986, Burns retired from Walt Disney Imagineering, and in 1992, she was honored with a window on Main Street, being the first woman in Disney history to be honored in this way. In 2000, she was further honored as a Disney Legend for her work in Imagineering. She passed away on July 25, 2008, at the age of 79.

March 30

March 30, 2007 – Disney Legend Roger Broggie is Honored with a Window on Disneyland’s Main Street

“Advisor to the Magic Makers.”

On March 30, 2007, Imagineer and Disney Legend Roger Broggie was posthumously honored with a window on Disneyland’s Main Street. Broggie began working at the Disney Studios in 1939, first tasked with installing the multiplane camera. Broggie assisted Walt with the creation of Walt’s miniature train set, called the Lilly Belle. Broggie was hand-picked by Walt as the first member of the team of engineers to make up WED Enterprises, becoming the first Imagineer, and one of the first tasked with the creation of Disneyland. Not only did he help with plans for the monorail and the Matterhorn Bobsleds, but he helped with the creation of Audio-Animatronics. Broggie’s window was placed above the magic shop, advertising him as the shopkeeper for Can Do Machine Works. In attendance at the ceremony were fellow Disney Legends Alice Davis and Bob Gurr, Disney Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar, and members of Broggie’s family, including son Michael Broggie, who continues his father’s legacy as a machinist and supervisor in the Disney Studio machine shop.