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What a doll ! Remembering Joyce Carlson (1923 - 2008)

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What a doll ! Remembering Joyce Carlson (1923 - 2008)

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The world got a little smaller this past Tuesday with the passing of Disney Legend Joyce Carlson.

And -- no -- I'm not just saying that because this veteran Imagineer worked on six different versions of "it's a small world." With Joyce not only helping to create the original version of this much beloved attraction for the 1964 New York World's Fair but also working on the Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland-Paris versions of this Fantasyland favorite. And even though she'd officially retired from the Walt Disney Company back in 2000, Carlson still consulted on the soon-to-be-opening Hong Kong Disneyland version of "it's a small world." Which is why there won't a single version of this attraction on the planet that doesn't feature Joyce's exacting eye for detail, her keen sense of color.

Which is quite the claim to fame. But were you to ever mention this and/or try to compliment Carlson on her sizable contribution to the Walt Disney Company's legacy, she'd immediately downplay whatever she'd done. Being a naturally humble person, Joyce was uncomfortable when it came to discussing her own accomplishments. Which is why Ms. Carlson much preferred talking about the other brilliant & creative people that she'd worked with over the years. The John Henches, the Marc Davises and the Mary Blairs of the world.

Of course, what's kind of ironic about this is -- while John, Marc and Mary were obviously great when it came to the initial concept, design & coloring phase of project development for the parks -- they still needed someone with Joyce's skills to then make their dreams a reality. To turn that quick sketch into a highly detailed model and/or a fully dimensional figure.

Over the past 20 years, I was lucky enough to get a few chances to chat with Ms. Carlson. Pick her brain on what it was like to work as an inker on such classic animated features as Disney's "Cinderella," "Peter Pan" and "Sleeping Beauty." Or -- for that matter -- what it was like to be one of the very first women to work at WED. But it was always a challenge to get this very sweet, naturally self-effacing lady to actually talk about herself.

Which is why I'm greatful to Jim Korkis. Who -- back when he used to write for JHM -- contributed an amazing three part interview with Joyce to the site. So if you'd like to learn more about this amazing & accomplished woman, I suggest that you follow the above links back to those articles from 2003.

Anyway, if you marveled at attractions like "Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress," "America Sings" or "The Haunted Mansion," you have Joyce Carlson and/or the dozens of Imagineers that she trained over the years to thank. Which is why we're all really going to miss this doll of a woman.


The staff of JHM wishes to express its heartfelt condolences to the friends & family of Joyce Carlson during their time of sorrow. If you wish to honor the memory of this remarkable woman, Joyce's family asks that -- in lieu of flowers -- you make a contribution in Ms. Carlson's name to the Hospice of the Comforter in Altamonte Springs, FL.

For further information on Joyce's career, might I suggest that you check the official obituary that the Walt Disney Company had prepared. Which (among other spots around the Web) has just been posted over on LaughingPlace.com.

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