I’ve told this story before and it always guarantees a laugh. Plus, it’s an insightful look inside the delightful Walt Disney Studios of the nineteen sixties and two of the men who worked there. Animator, Blaine Gibson and Roy Geyser, the head of the moving department. The Old Maestro, Walt Disney had discovered his talented animator, Blaine Gibson had a gift for sculpting. Lacking formal training, the Disney animator developed his skills while enjoying sculpting as a hobby and a break from his animation chores. Of course, this was long before Gibson became part of the core team and a valuable member of Walt Disney’s Imagineers.
Walt was considering an update to one of his underwater attractions and he needed a sculpture of a beautiful mermaid. Assisted by fellow animator, Jack Fergis, Blaine Gibson was given a large office in the Animation Building’s B-Wing. Oddly enough, 1B-1 was the very same office where I began my Disney career back in the fifties. Blaine and Jack immediately moved into the office and began work on their Mermaid sculpture. It was a large piece and would require a good deal of work. The two artists worked dilligently in order to complete the job on time. After all, this was for the boss himself, and nobody wanted anything to go wrong. Before long, the mermaid sculpture was completed and all of us animation artists headed over to 1B-1 to have a look. Blaine and Jack had done a fine job and Walt Disney was certain to be pleased.
Roy Geyser, was a short, burly little guy who headed up the team of movers on the Walt Disney studio lot. For the most part, Roy and his crew moved the massive Kem Webber animation desks from room to room in the Animation Building. On occasion, they might have to move a large item to the workshops on the studio back lot. Such was the case this busy day. Geyser and his team arrived in the Animation Building that afternoon and carefully moved the large sculpture onto a dolly. They wheeled the beautiful mermaid down the hallway and through the exterior doors of the Animation Building. It was then something horrible happened. Roy Geyser and his team of movers watched in horror as the massive sculpture began to tip to the side and fall (in what seemed like slow motion) to the ground below. It was a disaster of biblical proportions as Blaine Gibson’s beautiful mermaid crumbled into what seemed like a thousand pieces. I can only imagine what must have been going through Roy’s head that dreadful afternoon. He and his team had just destroyed a beautiful sculpture by two well respected Disney artists. Worse, the sculpture was being prepared for the boss, Walt Disney. Could things possibly be any worse?
They might have been had Roy Geyser worked anywhere except the Walt Disney Studio. When Blaine Gibson and Jack Fergis heard the “tragic” news, they practically fell off their chairs with laughter. Walt Disney wasn’t even upset and the Old Maestro advised the movers to take a little more time when they had something delicate to move. Finally, Blaine Gibson laughed that he was glad his sculpture was destroyed because he wanted to do it over again anyway. As expected, Blaine and Jack’s next iteration was indeed better than the first, and Walt Disney was delighted with the final result. Most important of all, Roy Geyser and his team of movers were probably truly grateful they worked for a man named, Walt Disney.