Walt Disney gets the big ball rolling, 1955
Years before Astronaut Neil Armstrong took "one small step for Man," Walt Disney was already sending mankind to the Moon and back aboard the TWA Moonliner Rocket at Disneyland. Amature space travelers gazing at the overhead scanner could view the lunar surface grow larger and more detailed as the rocket rumbled toward its destination.
The moon seen in the Disneyland attraction was, naturally, an intensely accurate scale model sculpted by Pasadena artist Roger Hayward. Hayward, who was also an accomplished scientific illustrator, had won international attention in 1934 when he constructed an enormous section of the moon's surface for the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Roger Hayward, in 1934, sculpts an 80-foot diameter section of the Moon's surface.
Soon Hayward was building smaller but complete moons for the Los Angeles Griffith and Chicago Adler Planetariums. The Griffith model had been on display for nearly twenty years when Disney director Ward Kimball came along and made it a movie star in his Man in Space series for the weekly Disneyland TV program.
Disney Story Artist Bill Bosche (foreground left) supervises the moon landing at the Disney Studios, March 1955
"Ah, see the moon, Moon that shines in June, Like a macaroon..."
Griffith Observatory, March 1995
Today Roger Hayward's Moon remains as impressive as ever, and I go out of my way to admire it each time I'm at the Griffith. The model was originally located in a special art deco-ish vestibule on the observatory's main floor, but was relocated in the recent renovation to a less-prominent spot downstairs.
Hayward's Moon displayed at Griffith Observatory today
Strangely there is no credit given to Hayward at the display, which I think is a shame. Apart from the detail and accuracy of mapping out the moon's real features, Hayward's model is an historic treasure of the planetarium itself, and a major attraction since the very beginning.
As far as moon models go, this one is a star.
Roger Hayward in 1964
And now the skills of the sculptor and the talents of the artist will let us relive a few great moments with Mr. Hayward's Moon Model...
Clip from Walt Disney's "Man and the Moon" 1955