Wednesday, February 28, 2024

In remembrance of Peter Crane, giant-screen cinema industry pioneer, 1921-2011

The pioneering giant-screen film To Be Alive! was produced for the Johnson Wax Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, using a then-experimental three-screen format. The pavilion was managed by Peter Crane in his public relations role for Johnson. Crane went on to work with WED and consult for IMAX Corp.

The late Peter Douglas Crane did much to help create the industry of special-venue cinema and immersive entertainment. The following remembrance was provided by his family.

Peter Douglas Crane
March 21, 1921 – February 11, 2011

Loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend, Peter Douglas Crane, 89, passed away February 11, 2011.

He was born in Camden, New Jersey and married his wife, Ethel Zielke in 1944 in Santa Barbara while serving in the Army Air Corps.

Peter was a navigation instructor during World War II and afterward moved with Ethel to Racine, Wisconsin, where they raised three sons, Michael, Peter, and Bill. He worked in public relations for SC Johnson and managed company pavilions at the Seattle, New York and Montreal World’s Fairs.

While stationed in Southern California during the war, he was determined that one day he would live in the Golden State. In 1969 Peter landed a job with WED (a division of Disney Corporation) in Glendale and made the move west, settling in Pasadena. After a number of years at WED, he used his marketing talent and skills to start his own companies, primarily with a group of filmmakers and engineers who were the founding members of IMAX, whom he met at the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair. While a consultant for IMAX, Peter traveled extensively around the globe, during which time he and Ethel experienced numerous exotic adventures.

After establishing Peter Crane Associates, he and Ethel moved to San Clemente to be closer to the ocean they loved so much. A body surfer since his youth in New Jersey, Peter reveled in the Southern California surf and he, Ethel and their sons would spend countless hours riding the waves, surfing, body surfing, or Boogey Boarding. Peter also fell in love with Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, where he and Ethel spent wonderful vacations. They dearly loved their pool and the trio of “pool hoops” water basketball games Peter created. When out of the water, he and Ethel were avid Angels baseball fans, hardly ever missing a televised game.

Peter is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Ethel, sons Michael, Peter and Bill, grandchildren Cheryl Grazioli, Tyler Crane, Cadin and Chase Crane, and great-grandchildren Emma and Nathan Grazioli.

A celebration of Peter’s life was held with family and friends at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 15th, at Faith Lutheran Church, 34381 Calle Portola, Capistrano Beach.

Were you a colleague of Peter Crane’s? 
If you would like to contribute a postscript about him to be added here, please send to IPM contributing editor Judith Rubin (rubin. judith@
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

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