C.V. Wood Jr.; Recreational Pioneer

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

C.V. (Woody) Wood Jr., who helped select the site for Disneyland, managed the stone-by-stone shipping of London Bridge to Arizona and whose championship chili cook-offs raised millions of dollars for charity, has died of lung cancer.

A spokesman for Warner Bros. Recreational Entertainment Division, of which he was president, said he died Saturday at 71.

Wood was one of the original employees of Disneyland Inc., serving under Walt Disney as vice president and general manager for site selection and development.


He left Disneyland in 1956 to form Marco Engineering, providing market research, design, engineering and construction to the leisure industry. The company built Boston’s Pleasure Island, New York’s Freedomland and the first Six Flags park in Arlington, Tex.

In 1961, Marco merged with the McCulloch Corp., an oil and gas exploration, geothermal energy, gas transmission and land development company. Wood retired in 1980 as chairman and chief executive officer.

In 1968, Wood achieved worldwide recognition when he arranged the purchase of London Bridge by McCulloch and dismantled and shipped it to Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

In 1987, Wood became assistant to the Lorimar Telepictures chairman and helped merge that company with Time Warner.

After the merger, he was retained by Warner Bros. to pioneer its entry into the studio tour attraction business. He planned, built and last year opened the company’s first attraction, Warner Bros. Movie World, on the Gold Coast of Australia.

A lifelong devotee of chili, which he considered America’s national dish, Wood twice was a chili cook-off world champion and spent nearly a quarter-century presiding over the annual World Championship Chili Cookoff that he co-founded with race car designer Carroll Shelby.


His personal recipe included such unusual items as limes and Pepsi-Cola. Last year it was estimated that the 400 cook-offs sanctioned by the society raised more than $10 million for such organizations as the Kidney Foundation and the Boy Scouts.

Wood was born in Wood County, Okla., and raised in Amarillo, Tex. He attended Hardin-Simmons University two years before transferring to the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a petroleum engineering degree.

He is survived by his wife, screen actress Joanne Dru, a son, daughter, three stepchildren and eight grandchildren.