Fred Joerger, 91, a master modelmaker who helped create the look of Disneyland with his miniature molds of Sleeping Beauty Castle and other attractions, died Aug. 26 at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles. No cause of death was reported.
In 1953, Walt Disney handpicked Mr. Joerger to become one of the first three modelmakers. The three invented a profession that would be known in future years as "Imagineering," Disney-speak for the imagination and engineering that go into developing theme-park rides.
The first model Mr. Joerger made for Disneyland was of the steamboat Mark Twain. Three-dimensional renderings of Main Street, the Jungle Cruise, the Matterhorn and much of the rest of the original Disneyland followed.
Mr. Joerger also became a field art director, making sure that such rides as Pirates of the Caribbean and Submarine Voyage achieved the look that Disney's Imagineers envisioned.
Walt Disney found Mr. Joerger's oversight on Pirates so crucial that he had him flown from Burbank to Orange County, Calif., every day for nine months because he didn't want him stressed by freeway traffic, said Harriet Burns, another original Imagineer who worked with Mr. Joerger for 31 years.
Mr. Joerger became known for his skill with forced perspective, a technique that can make objects appear smaller or -- as was usually the case at Disneyland -- larger.
"He could put together a pile of cement and steel beams, knowing you would look at it at a certain angle and you would think it was twice as big as it really was," said Jim Hill, a historian of Disney.
Examples of his faux-stone work can be seen at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Tom Sawyer Island, the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Home was one more place Mr. Joerger practiced his magician-like craft. He started building a house in Lakeview Terrace in 1952 and worked on it for 45 years.
Built in the Frank Lloyd Wright style, it has flagstone floors, fireplaces in five rooms and painted ceilings. Waterfalls and ponds abound inside and out, and the entry features fireflies like those in Pirates of the Caribbean.
To maximize the drama of his pool during dinner parties, Mr. Joerger would hit a button to part the drapes and reveal an infinity pool framed by 40 cypress trees with a Neptune statue he created standing over it.
He recruited friends from Disney to work on the house, said Gregg Nestor, who bought the home in 1997.
"The minute I walked in, my mouth dropped open," Nestor said. "I said, 'You've done all of this in forced perspective.' And Fred replied, 'I think you are meant to have my property.' "
Mr. Joerger was born Dec. 21, 1913, in Pekin, Ill. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1937 with a bachelor's degree in fine arts, he moved to Los Angeles and worked at Warner Bros., building models of movie sets.
At Disney, he also worked on miniature versions of the sets for movies including "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954) and "Mary Poppins" (1964).
He had no immediate survivors.