Walt Disney's original Imagineer Roger Broggie built everything from steam engine trains to electronic robots that could sing and dance. Gifted with mechanical genius, there wasn't anything Roger couldn't do or figure out how to do. He epitomized the essence of Disney Imagineering - "the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how."
When Roger was honored at the Disney Legends Awards on October 18, 1990, company Chairman Michael Eisner said, "Any mechanical things you had to do, what you said was, 'Call Roger, he'll know how to fix it.' Without him, Disneyland wouldn't have happened."
Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1908, Roger graduated from Mooseheart High School in Illinois, in 1927. With vocational machine shop training, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked for such companies as Technicolor and Bell and Howell. In 1932, he built and operated a rear-projection system for Teague Process Company at General Service Studios. During this period, Roger worked on films for Walter Wanger, David O. Selznick and Charlie Chaplin.
By invitation of a friend who worked at Disney, Roger joined the Studio as a precision machinist in 1939. Among his first assignments was installation of the complicated multiplane camera animation equipment at the new Burbank lot. He later worked closely with fellow Disney Legend Ub Iwerks, in developing rear-screen special effects, camera cranes and high-speed optical printers.
In 1949, Roger helped Walt build his miniature trains in the Studio Machine Shop and later, installed Walt's backyard railroad at his Holmby Hills home. Roger was also instrumental in developing the Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad in Anaheim.
Roger was promoted to head of the Studio Machine Shop, in 1950. Within four years, under his able direction, the shop's responsibilities expanded from creating special effects for such films as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," to producing attractions for Disneyland, including the Monorail system and Matterhorn Bobsleds. Roger's department also created such new processes and techniques as Circle-Vision 360, a motion picture format with screens that completely surround the audience.
In 1951, Walt assigned Roger to work on "Project Little Man," and along with fellow imagineer Wathel Rogers, he constructed a nine-inch tall figure of a moving/talking man, which became the prototype of Audio-Animatronics (robotic) technology. In 1963, Roger and his department completed Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the first application of Audio-Animatronics to a life-sized human figure, which premiered at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.
In 1973, Roger turned his attention to EPCOT Center until his retirement in 1975, after dedicating more than 50 years to the Company.
Roger Broggie died November 4, 1991, in Los Angeles.