Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bill Cotter's visit

Famous Author and Disney Historian Visited Knoxville

Author, photographer, and former Disney employee, Bill Cotter, and wife, Carol, visited Knoxville on August 23 and 24. The Cotters flew from their home in Los Angeles with their son to Nashville as he begins his sophomore year at Vanderbilt.

Cotter, who has been e-mail pals with KJN's writer, Martha Woodward, since 2007, traveled to town to meet with her and visit the former 1982 World's fairgrounds.

Cotter became intrigued with studying world's fairs in general when, at age 12, he visited the 1964 World's Fair in New York City, Cotter's hometown. Cotter began two lifelong passions (1) world's fairs and (2) the life of Walt Disney, who was the creator of most of the displays for the 1964 fair. When Cotter grew up, he moved to Silicon Valley and worked for Disney from 1976 to 1982. Cotter photographed and collected numerous items about Walt Disney and has served as a consultant to Michael Eisner about Disney's life.

Cotter has written over 50 books and has been the contributor to hundreds more. His books Disney from A to Z and The Complete History of Disney TV are classics. He has also written books the historic world’s fairs in 1939-40 New York World's Fair; 1962 Seattle World's Fair; 1964 New York World's Fair; 1984 New Orleans World's Fair; and Canada’s Vancouver: Expo '86
for Arcadia Publishing based in South Carolina.

Cotter explains his fascination with fairs this way: "World's Fairs are very special times and places. For all too brief a time they transform an everyday setting into someplace magical, one of exotic landscapes, international foods and visitors, playful architecture and projections of the future. Although they are with us for just a short time, they often leave long-lasting memories with those lucky enough to attend. Happily, they also leave behind a wide array of souvenirs, including photographs that forever memorialize these international galas.
I have long been interested in world's fairs, and have been fortunate enough to have visited several of them. Over the years I have collected thousands of photos and am pleased to be able to share some of them with you on my web site at I hope that the photos provide you an enjoyable trip back in time."

Woodward took the Cotters for a tour around town and provided brief history lessons on James White Fort and Blount Mansion. They specifically toured World's Fair Park ending their visit with a special stop at the Sunsphere. "We were lucky, we arrived at a good time and were able to visit the observation deck on the 4th floor and were also invited by Michael Hileman to see the 5th and 6th floors," explained Woodward.

"It was wonderful to meet Bill. We have corresponded for over four years and have shared many writing ideas," she said. "Bill has an amazing amount of knowledge about the 1982 World's Fair and fairs in general. Over the years, he has collected 1982 World' Fair photos, too. He is just an awesome person, and his wife was the kind of person you meet and instantly feel like you have known for years."

The Cotters were headed to Asheville, North Carolina to visit the Biltmore Mansion before their return flight to Los Angeles. Woodward says she has a standing invitation to visit them in California.

The Cotters were so impressed with Tennessee they are considering retiring here in the next five years.

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