It is with great and profound sadness that we report the passing of Disney Legend Jack Lindquist. Jack was not only the very first person to be honored with the title President of Disneyland, he was a man who added to the Disneyland legacy in a multitude of ways throughout his long career.
On November 18, 1993, Mickey Mouse turned 65 with a whole lot of hoopla going on. That same day, with a bit less hoopla, a man born just a year before the famous Mouse—but whose life had been equally woven into the fabric of Disneyland’s original tapestry—retired. Jack Lindquist stepped down as the first president of Disneyland on that day and left behind a career begun in 1955, when he was hired by Walt Disney to be the first advertising manager for his original Magic Kingdom.
Over the years, Jack would become known as the idea man for a variety of “firsts,” including development of the Disneyland Ambassador program, making “E Tickets” famous, helping to create the original Magic Kingdom Club, originating Grad Nites, rallying the Pigskin Classic (a season opening college football game at Anaheim Stadium from 1990-1994), coming up with Disney Dollars—the list is almost endless. During Jack’s nearly 40 year Disney career, he was quite literally a hands-on part of just about everything that involved Disneyland and even the early days of Walt Disney World—in spite of the fact that he was known for a hands-off management style. Jack basically trusted you to know how to do your job.
“Jack always came through Tomorrowland with a smile and worked the back stock room of Star Trader like he was one of us!” said Alumni Nancee Richardson.
Stephanie Lyon recalled, “When I started at Disneyland he was President and I have fond memories seeing him around the Park. He was just what you would imagine the President of Disneyland would be like.”
Another Alumni recalls Jack not from Disneyland, but from Chapman College. Lynette Ann Greathouse said, “Though I didn't work at Disneyland at the same time as Mr. Lindquist I saw his magical touch all over the resort. I was lucky enough to have meet him during my time at Chapman University - he was insightful, had a great sense of humor, and so kind to our class of wide-eyed Disney fans. Sending my thoughts to Mr. Lindquist and his entire family.”
Disneyland Alumni Club officer Richard Ferrin (below) recalls Jack’s help during the production of our 50th anniversary Gala event in 2005. “Jack helped us to produce our DVD, get interviews for disc 2, served as a DAC governor, and once donated a year’s membership dues for anyone who purchased his book through us.” And that’s just to start! It’s hard to count the many ways he blessed the Disneyland Alumni Club with his support over the years.
Born in March 15, 1927, Jack actually got his start in life as a child actor, appearing in some of the Our Gang comedies, with Shirley Temple in The Little Princess (1939) and later tapped his toes with Lucille Ball in the 1943 classic Best Foot Forward. From there, he spent two years in the Air Force and completed his education at USC. After graduating, Jack went to work for a company that became an original Disneyland participant—and that’s when Jack’s love affair with the Magic Kingdom began.
Until he became president of Disneyland in 1990, Jack served almost exclusively in advertising and marketing roles for Disneyland, Walt Disney Productions, and The Walt Disney Company. During the 1970s and ‘80s, he navigated the development of Walt Disney World and later Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.
In 2010, Jack published his colorful memoir (written with Melinda J. Combs) of his Disney days, humbly titled In Service to the Mouse: My Unexpected Journey to Becoming Disneyland’s First President. In it, Jack shares stories of the days when Disneyland was basically made up as it went along. And those stories are pretty humorous! We recommend its addition to your Disney library.
According to a Wikipedia entry, “[Jack’s] eventual reach would extend world-wide, having trained and/or greatly influenced others who would become amusement industry leaders, both inside and outside of the Disney attractions. Among the amusement industry, many have credited Lindquist with founding and greatly expanding the arts and sciences of attraction promotion.”
Most importantly, he was one of us, Alumni.
After Jack retired on that day in November 1993, he was rightly named a Disney Legend and given his own window on Main Street. When you visit City Hall, you’ll see it, dedicated to: J. B. Lindquist - Honorary Mayor of Disneyland. Yes he is.