Valerie J. Nelson
Los Angeles Times
Sept. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
LOS ANGELES - Fred Joerger, a master model-maker who helped create the look of Disneyland by molding Sleeping Beauty Castle and other attractions in miniature, has died. He was 91.
Joerger died of causes associated with old age on Aug. 26 at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in the Woodland Hills district of Los Angeles, said Gloria Penrose, his niece.
Walt Disney hand-picked Joerger in 1953 to become one of the first three model-makers. The trio invented a profession that would be known in future years as Imagineering, Disney-speak for the imagination and engineering that go into developing theme-park rides.
"He provided the foundations of the park. All of the things that help give it that weird sense of reality are Fred's doing," said Jim Hill, who has tracked Disney history for 25 years. "And this was before computers; the only tool he had at that point was a slide rule."
The first model Joerger made for Disneyland was of the steamboat Mark Twain. Three-dimensional renderings of Main Street, the Jungle Cruise, the Matterhorn and much of the rest of the original Disneyland followed, his niece said.
Joerger also became a field art director, making sure that such rides as Pirates of the Caribbean and Submarine Voyage achieved the look that Disney's Imagineers envisioned.
Walt Disney found his oversight on Pirates so crucial that he had Joerger flown from Burbank to Orange County every day for nine months because Disney didn't want Joerger stressed by freeway traffic.