Friday, January 11, 2008

Imagineer Joyce Carlson R.I.P.

Joyce Carlson, ink artist on several Walt Disney shorts and feature films and one of the creators of the "It's a Small World" amusement ride, died on January 2 at the age of 84. The cause was cancer.

Carlson was born on March 16, 1923 in Racine, Wisconsin. She was a teenager when her family moved to California in 1938. After graduating from Santa Monica High School, Carlson took a job at Walt Disney, delivering mail, brushes, pencils, pens, and other supplies to the artists. It was six weeks later that Carlson became part of the Ink and Paint department, nicknamed the "nunnery" because the majority of women in the department were women. Initially she worked on training films the studio produced for the Army. She would go onto not only ink shorts for the studio, but feature films as well. She inked The Three Caballeros, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty. She was the lead ink artist on Lady and the Tramp.

It was in 1960 that Walt Disney started replacing inkers with Xerox copying. Carlson then moved to WED Enterprises, later called Walt Disney Imagineering, the portion of the company in charge of developing attractions for the theme parks, which also developed Disney attractions for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Carlson worked on the Carousel of Progress (later an attraction at the theme parks) for the World Fair. Alongside Mary Blair and Marc Davis, she helped develop"It's a Small World" for the 1964 New York World's Fair. She also worked on developing "It's a Small World" at each of the Disney amusement parks. Among the other attractions Carlson worked on were the Jungle Cruise," "America Sings," "Pirates of the Caribbean" (inking), and "Haunted Mansion (inking)." Over the years she trained many of the Imagineers who work on the rides at Disney theme parks. Carlson was the first woman at Disney to have worked for the company for 50 years. She was also the first woman to ever work at WED Enterprises. In total, she worked for the company for 62 years.

For her work for the company Carlson was declared a "Disney Legend," the equivalent of a Hall of Fame at the company. There can be absolutely no doubt that she deserved it. Carlson inked some of Disney's best features, and was pivotal in developing rides for the company's theme parks. As a Disney Legend she received her own shop window on Main Street at Disney World. In a second storey window, right above the Emporium, a window is inscribed with "Dolls by Miss Joyce, Dollmaker for the World," As an inker and Imagineer who worked on many of Disney's best known rides, there could perhaps be no better tribute.


Jim Marquis said...

I got stuck in the Small World area of Disneyland one time. Something happened and even though the music kept playing the little cars wouldn't move. What a nightmare.

Terence Towles Canote said...

While I admire the technology that went into It's a Small World, I always thought it was a little creepy myself (even the song). Of course, I've never been to any of the Disney parks, so maybe it's not so creepy in real life as on film...

Bobby D. said...

I took a small child on the "small world" ride at Disneyland. I started getting creeped out right away, but wanted the child to enjoy it. By mid ride she had her hands over her ears and her face was blank.
Even moving the ride does not move fast enough, as
j. marquis said--- Nightmare!

Bobby D. said...

Nice to know so many women worked at Disney, though.