Disney Imagineer Blaine Gibson, who sculpted everything from pirates to presidents, has died, according to the Walt Disney Family Museum, he was 97.
Gibson started his career with Disney as an in-betweener and assistant animator working on such classics as “Fantasia,” “Bambi” and “Peter Pan.” While working at the Disney Studios, he took evening classes in sculpture at Pasadena City College.
The story goes that one day Walt Disney saw some of his sculptures and assigned him to the Disneyland project. Eventually he became the head of then WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) Sculpture Department, where he sculpted figures like Abraham Lincoln for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and dozens of pirates for Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.
Other Disneyland attractions he worked on included the Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room. ...
Blaine Gibson was like a lot of staff at Walt Disney Productions in the Eisenhower era: He had skills outside of his 9-to-5 job, the owner/founder got wind of it, and whisked you away to another department and/or Disney subsidiary.
The same thing happened to Disney veteran Roland Crump. He was in charge of making sure all the dalmation spots stayed in the right places on the dogs while 101 Dalmations was being animated, and found the work a tad ... ahm ... tedious.
But Rolly wasn't just an assistant animator. He also made elaborate paper mobiles that he hung in his office. (Perhaps to break the monotony of all those spots?) Walt, roaming the studio corridors one weekend, came across Rolly's mobiles and reassigned Mr. Crump to WED, where he remained for decades.