Profile of an Imagineer: Roger Broggie

Roger Broggie was the first Walt Disney Imagineer. A mechanical genius who embodied the spirit of Disney Imagineering with his ability to blend creative imagination and technical knowledge, Broggie was a close friend of Walt Disney. He helped lay the groundwork for Disneyland and the other Disney parks that followed.

Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1908, Broggie graduated from Mooseheart High School in 1927. Moving to California he used his vocational machine shop training and found work with companies such as Technicolor, Bell and Howell, and Teague Process Company. During this time he worked on films for Walter Wagner, David O. Selznick, and Charlie Chaplin.

In 1939 Roger joined Disney Studios as a precision machinist. He worked on the installation of multiplane camera animation equipment at Disney's Burbank studio lot, as well as developing rear-screen special effects, camera cranes, and high-speed optical printers with Ub Iwerks, the creator of Mickey Mouse.

Broggie built the Lilly Belle steam engine and the Carolwood Pacific Railroad for Walt Disney's backyard. He would later be responsible for acquiring and restoring the trains for the Walt Disney Railroad.

In 1950, Broggie was promoted to head of Disney Studios Machine Shop. He and his team were responsible for creating the special effects for the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The team was also responsible for completing Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which was the first application of audio-animatronics to a human figure.

With the development of Disneyland in California, Broggie took on a new role and oversaw development of the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroads, the Disneyland Monorail, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

Before retiring in 1975, Broggie worked on the EPCOT Center Project at Walt Disney World. After retirement, he continued to consult for Walt Disney Imagineering.

In 1990 Richard Broggie was named a Disney Legend. He then passed away on November 4, 1991 in California.

Visitors can ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad Steam Engine No. 3, the Roger E. Broggie at Magic Kingdom. In 2007 he was honored with a window on Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland.

Photo Credit Disney.

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