Blaine Gibson (Animation & Imagineering)
After animating all day at The Walt Disney Studios, Blaine Gibson would go home at night and sculpt, which had been a favorite hobby of his since childhood. Then, in 1954, Walt Disney happened to see one of Blaine's art exhibits, which featured several animal sculptures, and recruited him to work on special projects for his new theme park, Disneyland.
Blaine was somewhat ambivalent about being diverted from his goal to establish himself as one of the Studio's foremost animators. As he recalled in 1995, "I didn't think it was that important (of a job), but then I was told Walt was expecting me to work on these projects. So I said to myself, 'what the heck' and went (to Walt Disney Imagineering). I was never sorry after that."
In the beginning, Blaine divided his time between sculpting and animating for the Company, until 1961, when he transferred to the design and development division to supervise the newly-created sculpture department, full-time. Ultimately, Blaine went on to make a name for himself in 3-D animation, creating hundreds of sculptures from which Audio-Animatronics figures and bronzes were produced for exhibits in the 1964-65 New York World's Fair and Disney theme parks around the world. Among his credits, Blaine contributed to such attractions as Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Enchanted Tiki Room. He also sculpted all 42 U.S. Presidents, including George W. Bush, for the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World.
Born February 11, 1918, in Rocky Ford, Colorado, Blaine attended Colorado University, but left school to join The Walt Disney Studios in 1939. While working as an inbetween artist and assistant animator, he took evening classes in sculpture at Pasadena City College and studied with a private instructor. Among his animation credits are "Fantasia," "Bambi," "Song of the South," "Alice in Wonderland,' "Peter Pan," "Sleeping Beauty," and "101 Dalmatians."
After nearly 45 years with The Walt Disney Company, Blaine retired in 1983. He has, however, continued to consult on such projects as The Great Movie Ride at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida. In 1993, the same year he was named a Disney Legend, Blaine created a life-size bronze of Walt and Mickey Mouse standing hand in hand. The statue, called "Partners," is located at the Central Hub in Disneyland.