After all these years, our post on the tombstone epitaphs found in the Graveyard Jamboree finally reached completion only in the last month when Tom Morris helped identify the last, most stubborn holdout among the nine stones. Tom thinks that RESEER is a tribute to Larry Reiser, a project coordinator who may have done some project coordinating at the DL Mansion before heading to Florida, where he did most of his project coordinating. You can tell how much I understand these job titles.
To celebrate, let's take a look at a long forgotten project done by the man saluted in the NEKEESORF stone, one of the nine, found in considerable quantity throughout the cemetery. You will recall that NEKEESORF is a tribute to Imagineer Ken Forsse. We gave a little information about Ken in the "Nine Old Men" post and mentioned the fact that he created an elaborate haunted house model for a now-defunct amusement park, but the online source for that story is no longer available, so no can linky. That's a pity. It's a tale worth telling.
Mind you, we don't ordinarily concern ourselves here at LF with the outside projects of Disney Imagineers, but in this case we're performing a public service by rescuing something wonderful from the brink of extinction, and it's a haunted house project by a former Haunted Mansion Imagineer, so I don't think I'm going to take too much flak.
The story and the photos which follow all come courtesy of Reed Savory, whom I wish to thank for his permission to share them here.
Reed and his wife Zahava paid a visit to Ken and his wife, Professor Jan Forsse, at the tail end of 2013. As he was ill and confined to bed, Ken was unfortunately not able to entertain visitors, and the Savorys didn't have a chance to actually meet him. It was Mrs. Forsse who shared the following with the Savorys. (Sadly, Ken passed away at the age of 77 just three months later, in March of 2014.)
Ken left Disney not long after his work on the Haunted Mansion, and in the early 70's he was contacted by the Sid and Marty Krofft organization about the construction of "The World of Sid and Marty Krofft," an indoor amusement park based on characters created by the Krofft brothers, to be built in Atlanta. They wanted Ken to design a haunted house for the park.
Ken worked nearly 18 months on the project, constructing a scale model filled with dollhouse-like props, all hand-made. Reed was able to take numerous photos of the huge model in the Forsse's basement, still in excellent condition after four decades.
"The World of Sid and Marty Krofft" opened in May of 1976 but closed after only six months due to poor attendance. I know what you're all thinking: "How could it miss with a whiz-bang name like that?" One of life's many mysteries, I suppose. Anyway, larger attractions, like Ken's haunted house, were never built.
Forsse moved on and eventually struck gold in the 1980's with his Teddy Ruxpin doll, mentioned in the earlier post. That's what he's most remembered for. If not for the 2013 visit from the Savorys it's possible that all memory of his remarkable haunted house project some ten years before Teddy would have perished by now.
Feast your eyes.
Gotta love those lion's head knockers.
Looks like a pair of needle-nose pliers on the right. Helps to provide some scale.
In the photos, not many figures are visible inside the house, but there are some:
Yessss, an attic scene! All that incredible stuff, hand made.
Is that a coffin back there?
Those who knew him say Ken was an immensely talented guy. If we needed any proof, there it is.