Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#Disneyland60..........Today In Disneyland History...............August 26, 2005

Disney Legend Fred Joerger Passes Away
August 26, 2005

On August 26, 2005, Disney Legend Fred Joerger, a master model maker who helped create Disneyland's look by molding three-dimensional models of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Haunted Mansion and other attractions, passed away at age 91. Born in Pekin, Illinois, on December 21, 1913, Fred graduated from the University of Illinois with a fine arts degree in 1937. He then moved to Los Angeles and joined the art department at Warner Brother’s building models of movie sets.  Walt Disney handpicked Joerger back in 1953 to become one of the first three members of WED Enterprises (today known as Walt Disney Imagineering) along with Harriett Burns and Wathel Rogers. Joerger's unusual knack for creating gorgeous rockwork out of plaster led to his reputation as Imagineering's "resident rock expert." Imagineer Fred Joerger helped realize Walt Disney’s visions by crafting three-dimensional miniature models of Disney theme park attractions, as well as motion picture sets and props, before they were brought to full-scale life.

As Fred recalled, “I was given artists’ drawings of an interior set or a building and interpreted them into models. It’s very easy to make something like the Haunted Mansion look good on paper, but if you don’t get it into three-dimensions first, you may have a disaster. Well, my job was to create the model to avert disaster, which was fun, but a challenge.”

Among his rocky mountain highlights; the huge stones featured on the Jungle Cruise and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Joerger also built miniature sets and props for Disney motion pictures, including Mary Poppins, Darby O'Gill and the Little People, and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. It was Joerger who designed and constructed most all rockwork at Walt Disney World for its 1971 opening, including the breathtaking atrium waterfall featured in the Polynesian Village Resort.

In 1979, after 25 years with the Company, Fred retired. He soon returned, however, to serve as field art director for EPCOT Center prior to its 1982 opening.  His legacy lives on not just in his creations but in the Haunted Mansion as well where guests can still see the Haunted Mansion tombstone is a tribute to Joerger. The "Here Lies Good Old Fred - A Great Big Rock Fell On His Head". And that’s what happened today in Disneyland history. 

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