Roland F. Crump is better known as Rolly Crump. He got the nickname “Rolly” from his former boss, Walt Disney. Rolly Crump, a former Imagineer, has a window dedicated to him on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland and was named a Disney Legend.
I first learned of Rolly probably from his appearance on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color TV show, in an episode celebrating Disneyland's 10th anniversary. I own a copy of the episode on DVD, released about ten years ago. In the episode Walt asks Rolly to show off some pieces he created for the yet-to-be-opened Haunted Mansion attraction. Walt mentioned Rolly’s creations would all appear in a section of the Mansion called the Museum of the Weird. But Walt died a year later, and the Museum of the Weird never materialized.
Excerpt from 10th Anniversary episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color featuring Walt Disney, Disneyland ambassador Julie Reems, and Imagineers Marc Davis and Rolly Crump
Last week, Marvel Comics debuted a new comic book titled “Seekers of the Weird”. The idea for the series was recommended by current Imagineers who felt Rolly's creations, which by now had become legendary among Disney geeks by the very fact that they were introduced by Walt himself but never seen after that, would provide great material for the series. I soon learned that those Imagineers would be doing a signing of the first issue at a local comic shop not far from Disneyland. In addition, Rolly Crump would join them for the signing too.
I say all that to set up the enthusiasm I felt after reading that enjoyable first issue, followed by meeting Rolly himself at the signing. I searched the Internet to learn more about him and his Museum of the Weird and quickly discovered Rolly's 2012 autobiography "as told to" Jeff Heimbuch. After placing my Amazon order, I was surprised to learn it included a free Kindle version. As soon as I downloaded it, I started reading it.
I cannot remember the last time I read a book that felt like one long, friendly conversation, told in an easy-going style, and being enchanted by great stories and fascinating anecdotes both about the world of Disney from the 50’s to the 90’s and the remarkable life of this lucky guy. Nor can I remember finishing such a book as quickly. I finished this book in three days. For a guy who easily gets distracted for hours at a time on his iPhone or surfin’ the web, finishing a book in three days is one amazing feat!
I'm a designer by profession, so his stories as a young artist were ones I easily related too. He was hired as an animator for Walt Disney Animation in the early 1950s. Even though he had no training in animation, he took a $45 pay cut from his $75-a-week ceramic factory job to pursue the arts field. He worked as an in-between on films like “Peter Pan” and “Lady and the Tramp” before being transferred to WED Enterprises (later named Walt Disney Imagineering) to work on projects including the Enchanted Tiki Room, it’s a small world, and the Haunted Mansion. He eventually became Supervising Art Director at Disneyland and also ran his own independent business, working on projects for the Knott's Berry Farm family, Wet 'n' Wild, Steve Wynn, Jacques Cousteau and scores of other clients. He shares his memories about each of these projects, seasoned with details about these and many other people he encountered, the rich, the famous and the not-so-famous.
And they are all cute stories. Especially his stories about working with Walt, because, you know, this guy Rolly actually worked with him. The proof is on film!
If you're a Disney fan, interested in the creative mind, or just want a good, fun book to read, I highly recommend this book.
P.S. – So what do I do when my Amazon shipment finally arrives? Well, the book includes photos, so it’ll be great to see them all again in the printed copy of the book.
UPDATE (1/28/14): My book arrived yesterday. I'm glad I got to read the free Kindle version immediately after ordering the book, but after skimming through the pages of the book, I'm also really glad I own the print edition.
The Kindle version includes all the photos from the book, but the book, which measures 8 1/2" x 11", showcases them better, laid out next to the stories that concern them. I especially appreciated the full page photos and smaller photos grouped together in a page spread to compare them easily to each other. I couldn't do that in the static layout of the digital version which had images on their own separate pages. Ironically, I was able to see the details in the printed photos better than on my tablet (I don't own an iPad for those of you curious, discerning types; still getting by on my HP TouchPad). The pages are also designed with graphics familiar in the author's work that also effectively echo the whimsy of Crump's personality. But that design palette includes a pale yellow cast printed on all of the pages. At first I thought the dull look made me think it was printed on newsprint. I think I'm glad I read this on the high contrast screen of my tablet.
The book cover feels a little odd too. It feels to have a latex finish to it. It feels rubbery, something I've never encountered on other books. That caught me off guard and I wondered at first if I ought to wipe it down so it didn't feel weird.
I would love to get this autographed someday. Makes better sense than having my tablet autographed.
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!