In my brainstorming book "HATCH!" I share the story of the first time I heard the word "Imagineer." It was on the "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" TV program. Walt was giving the Disneyland Ambassador a tour of the model shop at Imagineering (Glendale, CA, just a few minutes from Disney Studios in Burbank.)
As they approached the scale model of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction Walt introduced Claude (Coates) as "the Imagineer in charge of the pirate project." This was the first time I had ever heard the word Imagineer. My head exploded!
On my first day at Imagineering (twenty-five years later) I met Claude Coats and ...well, it's all in HATCH!, chapter 5 (page 58, third paragraph ..."CLAUDE COATES ...") But go back to the last paragraph on p.57 to get the "complete Claude" and how I was inducted into the rare, exclusive, invitation-only "Disney Dinosaurs Club." I recently discovered a high quality clip of that show with Walt, Claude, "Ambassador Julie" ...and other Disney legends ...(sculptor Blaine Gibson.) Notice in the video the difference in height between Walt and Claude. Walt was 5' 10" and my friend Claude was 6' 7" ! He was a former track and field athlete at USC, and an architecture major.
[Claude comes in just before the 2:30 mark. It is Walt at his storytelling best.]
Claude's son, Alan, has created a wonderful website in honor of his father. It features a good deal of Claude's art. He began creating backgrounds for many of the Disney animated features and went on to be one of the top Imagineers from the beginning of Disneyland in the early 1950's through the early 1990's. Here's the website:: www.ClaudeCoats.com . [Click lower right corner —next to "YouTube"—to expand to Full Screen view.] <7>