Rolly Crump, Animator Who Helped Create Early Look of Disneyland, Dies at 93
Rolly Crump, a Disney animator who helped create the look of early Disneyland attractions like It’s a Small World and the Enchanted Tiki Room, died Sunday in Carlsbad, Calif. He was 93.
The Facebook page for his autobiography announced his death.
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Crump didn’t come from a formal art education, but his amateur drawings helped him get a job at the Walt Disney Co. when he was just 22, working on films such as “Peter Pan,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “101 Dalmations,” mostly as an animation assistant.
Crump was known for his eccentric beatnik style and pop art approach, which was evident in his personal art projects, such as a series of posters celebrating drugs. He created posters for rock groups and jazz artists; his artwork drew the attention of Walt Disney, who moved him from the animation department to designing for Disneyland. Crump joined the fledgling Walt Disney Imagineering Department in 1959, contributing to designs for attractions including the Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Tomorrowland and the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Disney Legend Tony Baxter, who worked alongside with Crump on EPCOT and other Imagineering projects for Walt Disney World, told Variety, “Rolly was always able to see a different way of doing things. I think that fascinated Walt Disney, who was always looking for innovations. When Rolly was right with his innovative approaches, they often turned out to be among the most memorable aspects of Disney Parks. Another thing that distinguished Rolly was his total enjoyment of creative work, and being around other creative people at Imagineering.”
His tiki vision also informed the South Seas design of the Disneyland Hotel’s bar Trader Sam’s, and influenced other artists in the genre. His designs continue to influence the look of all the Disney parks.
Crump’s colorful pop art design sensibility can be seen in the original design for It’s a Small World and its iconic clock, first constructed for the New York World’s Fair, which he created using sketches from Disney artist Mary Blair.
Born in Alhambra, Calif., Crump worked at Disney until the 1970s when he left, providing designs for other theme parks including Knott’s Berry Farm and Busch Gardens.
He returned to Disney to create designs for the Epcot Center’s “The Land” and the “Wonders of Life” pavilions. He was named a Disney Legend in 2004.
His autobiography, “It’s Kind of a Cute Story,” was published in 2012.
Crump is survived by his wife, three children and three grandchildren.
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