On a personal note, let me tell you about Marty. A fun friend of more than half a century, we relished a special relationship of insults and hugs. A wordsmith of the highest skill, he delighted in skewering me in communications, baiting me for a counter reply.
I fell for his tease, never coming close to matching his wit. Over many years we both unknowingly collected a file of exchanges…mine named The Marty Barbs. He used these on me publicly once in a Bob Gurr Roast. Touche dear sir!
Now, let me really tell you about Marty. As long as I’ve known him he never failed to send personal hand written thank you notes to those who helped him with his many projects. In the form of a thick vertical name imprinted postcard, Marty’s thanks were always penned in red.
I’ve treasured all the ones Marty blessed me with for decades…another file, this one labeled The MartyGrams. With his personal words which I can return to anytime, Marty and I live on together.
The Adventures of Bob’s World Travels in search of Paradise. At age 85, Bob does not want to grow old with golf, bingo, and senior citizen non-action. Where to go? Tahiti of course! On his search for Nemo, he found himself surrounded by live sharks – his kind of action! Traveling with Atlantis Events on the beautiful Oceania Marina, Bob did indeed find his paradise. Come along and watch his fun adventure.
Last week’s toy drive was wildly successful. Ernie, Justin, and I can’t thank all our almost 500 guests enough for their overwhelming generosity in providing the children at the Orangewood Children’s Home with a very Merry Christmas.
The ’66 Red Mustang was just so sweet – starts in an instant, settles into a slow idle, with automatic, perfect for controlling parade speed with a light brake drag. I did have to go back and forth between right and left foot braking to avoid leg discomfort. I had the heater on only a little bit – it was super effective. My guests got a bit cold though. I had to ride in the Mustang with the top down back to the storage place after the parade, but it very cozy.
I was actually very warm the entire day from 2 pm until I left for home at 11:30 pm. T-shirt, wool shirt, and a thick jacket. Also winter gloves and a wool cap. It was moderately windy with temperatures from 60° down to 48° by the end of the evening.
This year the organizers suffered a bunch of glitches – half the committed convertibles never showed causing many drivers to do a second lap to try to carry the stranded stars. They were afraid of rain, which stopped by 2:30 in the afternoon.
I did not get the driving call confirmed until late the night before. Last year it was confirmed several weeks earlier. But the mood with the volunteers in the green room, the garage line-up folks, security were all as friendly and fun as ever. Way more food and coffee while hanging out than anyone could eat. It’s a long logistics day – 2 pm call time, home at midnight.
We start by picking up the Mustang at 2:00 PM two miles from the parade location, takes 45 minutes to get there due to many blocked streets. Pick up credentials, put the car on the 6th floor roof parking lot of the L. Ron Hubbard Theater, add the door signs, hang out until our call time around 5:15 to start the cars, get in line down on the 5th floor to pick up the guests. We’re provided with endless coffee, water, and snacks in the garage while waiting.
We also have the run of the hospitality green room with even more food and desserts, meet other volunteers, and walk out to the outdoor parade Star Walk where the media gets their interviews and photos as the stars arrive.
It’s quite a busy spot on the 5th floor as the famous are loaded up for their ride. We keep a big furniture quilt in the back seat to huddle with as they sit on the padded trunk lid. It’s then about an hour creep down the ramps, into the line up with lots of lights and photos awaiting our orders onto the route start.
I’m provided with a headset to hear driver orders, then watch for several hand signals to start and stop in front of the reviewing stand as an emcee chats at the car for the TV cameras. Then start off we go, after handing the headset back to anther crew member. Lots of cheering and waving. Gumby is still a kid favorite in his 60th year. My guests were the Clokey family of Gumby creator Art Clokey, while their soccer playing girl friend ran along in the Gumby costume.
The trick is to not lose the Rolls~Royce ahead while juggling the giant helium balloon figure behind me, a dozen folks rustling the thing in the wind, bowing down under traffic light, plus pacing the girl in the Gumby suit. She’d stop many times for hugs and selfies, then run ahead. At Hollywood and Vine, the Rolls was long gone, the balloon was way behind, so I suggested Gumby run around the intersection doing donuts, hugs and selfies for several minutes until the balloon can catch up in the wind.
Then onward the parade finish, back up to the 5th floor, exit the guests, park and join them in the Star VIP lounge with all the famous. Coffee and dessert, then off a bit later for cocktails and a late dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, return the Mustang, return home at midnight. Whew…
My Disneyland Fire Engine was in the parade along with the D23 fan club kids.
In the photo of my 1955 office wall, not only is there a watercolor rendering of my version of the GM concept Scenicruiser, but there’s also two other bus sketches. One of them has two rear axles, the other a single rear axle. So what’s the story? Why are these buses there?
As Walt Disney was envisioning the Autopia attraction, he was aware that very small children wouldn’t be able to drive the little cars. So, he asked me to modify two of the ride cars to look like sheriff’s cars, complete with red lights, a siren, and painted black and white. Then ride operators could still thrill the tiny children by giving them a ride around the track.
Walt had another idea to increase ride capacity by giving several children at a time a ride in… a miniature Greyhound bus. So I started a design layout for the bus, going so far as figuring out a rear engine and drive train arrangement that would still have room for enough seats to make it practical. But, instead of a greyhound dog logo on the bus sides, my drawing showed, what else? A dachshund!
It soon became apparent that the bus idea was not practical, but the cute little bus drawings lived on and were last seen decades ago in some old wooden drafting cabinet drawers.
The documentary, Bob Gurr: Turning Dreams into Reality, tells the story of one of Walt Disney‘s earliest 1954 Imagineering Legends, Bob Gurr. His career, spanning 45 years creating 250 projects with Disney and beyond, will be explored.
From Disneyland to Las Vegas, Olympic spectaculars to rock star shows, Bob’s creations included Monorails, Abraham Lincoln mechanical animation, Pirate Battle Shows, even massive animated figures of King Kong and Godzilla.
Viewers will learn much about how these attractions were created from those who were there sharing these creations. Eight theme park creators who worked with Bob over these years will describe the unique ways in which he created a vast variety of attractions. The cast includes Disney Ambassador to the World Marty Sklar, Imagineering VP Craig Russell, Imagineer Chris Crump, and many others.
Bob Gurr: Turning Dreams into Reality is directed and produced by Carlene Thie, President of Ape Pen Publishing.
The documentary stars: Glenn Austin, Christopher Crump, Joel Friche, Bob Gurr,
Bruce Hayes, Garner Holt, Monty Lundy, & Marty Sklar. Run time: 52 minutes.
For more information: http://www.apependisneyproducts.com/#!bob-gurr-turning-dreams-into-reality-doc/b9n7d
The Making of Turning Dreams into Reality
Carlene Thie, Ape Pen Publishing, over many years has produced and sold numerous DVDs and graphic materials featuring Legendary Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr. Early in 2014, Carlene began the multi-year Dreams project based on the never ending requests for more stories of Bob’s creations over his 45 year career, some 250 projects for a wide variety clients from Disney and beyond – Universal Studios Tour, Michael Jackson, Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn to name a few.
In addition to the Ape Pen Publishing materials, Bob has made over 500 public appearances, podcasts, video interviews, and live radio talks during the past 35 years. The subjects have always been to answer questions about the creation of these projects, the clients, the teams, and the behind-the-scenes details.
But still the Disney and theme park entertainment fans want to know more. Not just what the project was, but the how of Bob’s working methods. Since Bob never had any engineering training, he was an Art Center car stylist at age twenty, just how did he accomplish these one-of-a-kind projects? These fan questions about the how never cease.
Thus Carlene’s quest was to explore beyond the what to discover and tell the hidden story of the how. The result is her latest DVD, Bob Gurr: Turning Dreams into Reality.
Asking Bob how he did this work was futile. Many people who have achieved significant accomplishments are puzzled when asked these kinds of questions. To them, what they did was their ordinary work, but a mystery to to others. Bob told Carlene – “Go ask the witness’s what they saw”.
Eight “witness’s” promptly assembled over a weekend in the summer of 2014 where a team of camera and audio technicians led by a director captured many hours of “testimony” as to what makes Bob “tick”. At last she had enough evidence to commence a story to answer all the how questions.
Glenn Austin, Christopher Crump, Joel Friche, Bob Gurr, Bruce Hayes, Garner Holt, Monty Lundy, & Marty Sklar all got in their thoughts, and a few digs too. luckily, Carlene and Bob had a lot of suitable photographs that could be used in the documentary. Walt Disney Imagineering also furnished a number of specially licensed company owned photographs.
Bob’s Emmy winning professional TV recording engineer nephew Eric Johnston lived near Carlene in Riverside California and volunteered his audio editing services. Eric also arranged for additional location shoots as well as other editing services, equipment, and technical assistance.
2015 saw the long process of documentary production – story writing, further editing, both audio mixing and video media, graphic material permissions, and of course obtaining a copyright license from The Walt Disney Company. The documentary is not connected with or a production of TWDC.
The documentary Turning Dreams into Reality will have a sneak premiere at an advance signing sale July 9th at the Pacific Northwest MouseMeet in Lynnwood, Washington. An official World Premiere will take place on July 15th in Garden Grove, California during the DisneyanaMania 2016. A making-of panel discussion will be featured attended by several documentary stars.
For more information http://www.DisneyanaFanClub.org
Advance internet sales are now available at http://www.apependisneyproducts.com/#!bob-gurr-turning-dreams-into-reality-doc/b9n7d
While attending Art Center School in Los Angeles from 1949 to 1952, among the various courses required, was an illustration class using many techniques and subjects. Whenever students were given free choice of subject (flowers, mountains, etc.) I chose vehicles. When the assignment was for a outdoor watercolor scene, I selected the, then-concept study, GM Scenicruiser, since I thought it was so cool. (My sister has that painting today in her ‘Bob Gurr Gallery’ in Texas.)
After graduation in 1952, I joined Ford Styling. I went to a car show in Walled Lake, Michigan where a new Scenicruiser was on display – I was entranced by it! Later in 2001 I toured some of the western States with a mountain biking group though AdventureBus which used… an old Scenicruiser rigged up as a hippie camper. We’d ride during the day, then sleep in it while driving to the next trail site. The poor thing had been modified with a tiny Detroit Diesel 8V-74, replacing the original monster W-style diesel engine. It would be flat out in second gear at 20 mph climbing any grade. But, it was a classic Scenicruiser… and I finally got my ride in one.
As a life long car nut and credentialed car tester at the annual Los Angeles Auto Show for many years, I get to drive every alternate-fuel car available on the show’s Green Drive Day. Advanced diesel, hydrogen fuel cell, and virtually every electric car available the past 18 years. My favorite is any Tesla – the Roadster, Model S, and now a big SUV, the Model X.
Thru the kindness of the Jason Knapp family, who are loyal Bob Gurr fans, I recently had one of these wondrous concoctions in my driveway. Jason had shared their Model S in 2012 and now had the big travel wonder for me to try out. Nothing on the planet is anywhere like this “On to the Future” machine. The falcon wing door X followed the previous month’s visit from Dave Tavres’ gull wing-door ’82 “Back to The Future” DeLorean. So it’s bird-wing car 2016 for sure.
Rather than listen to me gush over the big X, please go to this Autoblog link for a very interesting evaluation – www.autoblog.com/2016/03/11/tesla-model-x-p90d-first-drive/
A caveat; as most readers know, my historic design philosophy has been to keep stuff simple, even if it was the very first creation of it’s kind. The future is never free or easy. Stuff that sounds terrific as an idea can suffer the growing pains of eventual perfection. This stunning device is a huge leap into “automotive tomorrow” which will need to endure the course of all pioneers. I know the drill…Walt Disney wanted the first American Monorail and gave me less than nine months to do it. I spent a decade getting it right. I suspect the Model X will experience a dose of the same.