Ward Kimball

Yeah, it's only a movie set. It was constructed on one of the sound stages at the Walt Disney Studio to represent the offices where Ward Kimball and his ace team of artists and animators were busily creating the future. Back in the fifties, space travel only interested a handful of geeks like myself. Walt Disney was very attuned to the future and knew that space travel would one day become a reality. Disney decided to produce a series of films on space flight, moon exploration and a journey to Mars. While most scoffed at such ideas as simply science fiction, the Old Maestro was busily creating science fact.

Disney wisely decided on iconoclastic animator, Ward Kimball to helm the series. The brilliant, quirky Kimball assembled a team of writers, scientists and artists to bring this series to the small screen. Filmed in color, the series was seen by most Americans in glorious black & white. Even so, the Tomorrowland segments of the ABC television show, Disneyland were some of the most amazing television I had seen. I was still a kid in school when the series hit the air and Walt Disney introduced Ward Kimball to kick off the show. Kimball moved through his “office” filled with drawings and diagrams. Scale models of space craft filled the area. All of us geeky kids watched in wide eyed wonder.

Ward Kimball eventually produced and directed a number of highly educational and entertaining shows on space travel. The famous Kimball unit finally wrapped things up with a show called “Magic Highway” that gave audiences a look at the future of vehicular travel on freeways of the future. If only we could have pursued Walt's dream of efficient freeway travel instead of the hopeless, clogged mess we have today. By chance, I happened to be at the final sound mix down of the Disney film. As the film drew to a close, the producer/director actually lept from his chair and danced a jig in the recording studio.

Although I began watching these Disney movies while still in school, Ward Kimball's unit was still in full operation when I arrived at the Disney Studio as a young apprentice. Late one evening, when everyone had gone home, I decided to sneak upstairs to Ward Kimball's “secret unit.”
I made my way around the second floor unit taking in all the amazing stuff that filled the Kimball offices. However, I was in for a surprise. The offices were empty all right, but the producer/director hadn't gone home after all. As I stood there staring up at the artwork on the wall, Ward Kimball snuck up behind me and said these words I'll never forget.

“See anything you like?”

I nearly jumped through the ceiling like a cartoon character. Then again, what else would you expect from Ward Kimball?

 

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