Sad news today – Harriet Burns, Disney’s first female Imagineer, passed away this morning. Burns, who was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2000, came to the Disney Studios in 1955 and later joined WED Enterprises to work on theme park projects. In her thirty-one years with Disney she worked on a number of significant projects for the Disney parks as well as Disney’s attractions for the 1964 World’s Fair. From her Disney biography:
[Burns] helped create Sleeping Beauty Castle, New Orleans Square, the Haunted Mansion, and more. She also helped construct Storybook Land, which features model-size villages inspired by Disney animated movies, such as “Pinocchio” and designed all of the “singing birds” in the Enchanted Tiki Room, the first Audio-Animatronics® attraction at Disneyland.
Among other contributions, Harriet worked on everything from figure finishing to stage design for attractions featured at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, including Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and The Carousel of Progress. On occasion, when Walt would introduce new theme park attractions to television audiences, she would appear on segments of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.”
Burns was a significant contributor to that first, legendary generation of Imagineers and, along with Alice Davis and Mary Blair, one of the few women to rise to Imagineering prominence at that time. Our thoughts go out to her family.