The display business continued to operate, with a studio at 7301 N. E. Miami Court in Miami. At this studio and showroom, Lenore Sigfridson, who had followed the company from Minnesota, orchestrated the production of the now-thriving line of ghoulish creatures furnished to the amusement park industry for use in dark rides and funhouses.
      Olkon also developed a specialty of mechanized musicians. His "Chimp Band" of instrument-playing chimpanzees all dressed in red band coats was a popular line. He created the animated Dixieland Band for the facade of the rebuilt Showboat funhouse at Palisades Park, New Jersey in 1964, and was fond of remarking that the players were so realistic they were required to join the musicians' union.
 
 
     Looming on the horizon was the impact of the Walt Disney company and its revolutionizing of the traditional amusement park industry with modern fabrication materials and new programmable computerized motion systems. ADC's pulley and cam-driven papier-mache figures began to take a back seat to the juggernaut of the modern theme park. As many smaller amusement parks and attractions fell victim to the huge corporate fun-park dynasties, Animated Display Creators also saw a decline in business. But an interesting sideline developed when the firm's early creations were discovered by motion picture art directors. In 1981, director Tobe Hooper and set decorators for the Universal film "The Funhouse" rented many ADC display figures to lend authenticity to their production. Other films also made use of the ADC stable of creatures, such as "Hardly Working" and "Porkys II". One of Van's alligators was also considered for an appearance in "Miami Vice".
    On May 17, 1985, Van Olkon's employee of 41 years, Lenore Sigfridson, died at age 90. She had still been coming to work up to a month before.
   At this point, the only other regular artist in residence was Hank Banks, a sculptor who shared space in the ADC shop, now located in the increasingly dangerous neighborhood of 450 NW 71st Street. They managed what little commercial activity there was, together with hired help when needed. The building now required locked bars over the doors in this northeast area of the city.
Hank Banks and Van Olkon with Chimp Band in Animated Display Creators studio in Miami
     Norma Lewin was the companion of Van Olkon in Miami. They were both members of the Miami-South Florida chapter of the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association. She accompanied Van daily to the ADC showroom and later became blind. They provided care to each other in later life.
Van Olkon (right) and Norma Lewin (second from right) at the Halloween Party for the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association, of which Olkon was Executive Vice-President.
     
     By 1995, the ADC building on 71st Street had been robbed and vandalized some fifteen times, with thieves stealing everything from antiques to extension cords to sell on the streets. One wonders what vandals must have thought upon entering the darkened warehouse to encounter one of ADC's ghastly creatures. Olkon himself was injured jumping out of the way of a speeding car. Hank Banks, the last of his associates, had died. Van had outlived them all, and it was time to close the book on a most unusual business that had entertained America for more than six decades. Animated Display Creators ceased operations in 1997.
Letter from Van Olkon in 1990, making reference to the problem
of break-ins at the ADC 71st Street location in Miami.

   

 


After a long and unique career,
Van A.Olkon passed away on November 3, 1998 at the age of 91.
His creations and his art defined simpler and more innocent times.
We are fortunate that many of his works survive and still come to life
with the touch of a switch.

Thank you, Van...
for the fun, the fear...
and the fantasy.