Ken Anderson was laid off by MGM in 1934. He was married and
spent a month “living on the beaches and eating canned beans and what-not” (The
Disney Family Album). He applied to the Walt Disney Company at the urging of
his wife Polly even though his education was in architecture. Anderson’s additional
accomplishments include work on “The Goddess of Spring,” “Ferdinand the Bull,”
and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Anderson was the first imagineer to really work on the
Haunted Mansion as an attraction. Harper Goff did a drawing of a haunted house
as part of the Mickey Mouse park Walt Disney was considering in 1951, and Marvin
Davis gave a haunted mansion a place in Disneyland that never materialized.
In 1957, Anderson wrote his first storylines for the Haunted
Mansion. He researched houses in the south and went to the Winchester Mystery
House to look at group movements and timings. His storylines included a captain/pirate
who killed his new bride, a ghostly family that kept the mansion from being
renovated, a tour led by Walt Disney, and a mansion that used the Headless Horseman
and the classic monsters of literature.
Anderson suffered a stroke after the release of “101 Dalmatians.”
He lost the ability to move and was left blind by the stroke. He had “absolutely
no control” over his body. He came back with the inspiration from a grove of
trees and worked on Shere Khan for “The Jungle Book.”
Ken Anderson worked for Disney for 44 years. He is one of
the few unsung heroes of the Haunted Mansion. Without his first treatments and
ideas for the inside, we may not have the classic attraction that exists today.
Let his example help you improve your work situation, perseverance and creativity.
Sources: “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” by Jason Surrell.
“The Disney Family Album: Ken Anderson” aired on the Disney
Channel in 1984. Accessed at https://youtu.be/mSPnwK2yPtQ
“Ken Anderson; Disney Art Director, 84” in the New York
Times. Accessed at https://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/19/obituaries/ken-anderson-disney-art-director-84.html
For more on creativity and the Haunted Mansion, get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” online or at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.
For more on Disneyland and Creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For deep thinking about the Disney Company, check out “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”
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