The Amazing Rolly Crump

This Saturday we'll be doing an event at Disneyland and it'll be a reunion of sorts. You see, noted Disney Imagineer, Rolly Crump will be on hand to sign his new book and perhaps answer a few questions from the crowd. I'll also be on hand but unfortunately there will be no book signing for this Disney veteran. Because of several delays my book probably won't ship until March. On the upside, March is only a few weeks away so the wait won't be a long one. But, let's get back to Rolly Crump and how I first met the famous Disney Imagineer.

I had just completed my month long training period at the Walt Disney Studios back in February 1956. Finally, our little group of Disney trainees were ready for production. That is, we would be doing actual work on Disney movies and television shows. Each of us was “handed off” to our new boss or supervisor who would prepare us for production work. Our little team was split up and sent to different units in the Animation Building. I reported to my new boss who happened to be a gregarious young man named, Roland Crump. A talented artist, Crump looked more like a muscle builder than a Disney animator. His blonde hair was chopped into a crew cut and he wore a tight fitting T-shirt that revealed his bulging biceps. Crump was easy going and full of good humor. I was pleased that my new boss hadn't turned out to be an old, conservative stick in the mud. Rolly Crump was anything but that. He was funny, outrageous and always seemed to have a trick up his sleeve. Could you imagine a better way to begin my career at Disney?

Rolly Crump was assisting an animator named, Bob Carlson. Carlson was a Disney veteran currently animating a series of Jiminy Cricket segments for “The Mickey Mouse Club.” Not surprisingly, I still remember the first scene I picked up from Bob and Rolly. It was the cricket doing his musical introduction to “The Encylopedia.” The opening sequence consisted of a song sung by the cricket's original voice, Cliff Edwards. And, believe it or not, Cliff Edwards was on hand to record the voice of the cricket just as he had done decades earlier in the Walt Disney classic animated film, “Pinocchio.”

My relationship with Rolly Crump came to and end when the Old Maestro, Walt Disney suddenly snatched the zany artist from his animation department. You see, Crump enjoyed created little whirling pin-wheels from scraps of paper. Suddenly, Rolly's office was filled with these colorful little spinning creations driven by the building's air conditioning system. Should you stop in Rolly's office on any given day it was like a visit to a theme park. It was well known that Walt Disney often prowled the Animation Building during the evening hours and one night that included a visit to Rolly Crump's downstairs office. It didn't take Walt long to see the potential in what Crump had done for his own amusement. Disney quickly snatched the artist from the animation department and sent him over to WED Enterprises (as it was known in those days) and Roland Crump quickly became one of Walt's favorite Imagineers.

February 1956 was a long time ago, but Rolly Crump and I will be together this weekend at Disneyland to chat about those good old days when we were both young and had the opportunity to work with the best boss anybody could ever have.