Feb 6, 1934 – July 27, 2017
Marty Sklar was a student at UCLA and editor for The Daily Bruin when Walt Disney hired him on to create and run a daily paper for his theme park, Disneyland News. He went on to create most of the publicity materials for the park, with this office just to the left of City Hall if you were facing it. He loved to tell the story about how people would try to open the door and walk in to ask a question, not knowing that there was a two-foot drop from the doorway to the floor below – the front door was just for show. He’d help them up and cheerfully answer their questions anyway, because he was Marty.
In 1961, he moved over to WED Enterprises, now known as Walt Disney Imagineering, working on the huge projects Disney had planned for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. He also wrote many of Walt’s professional communications. After Walt’s death, he created much of the material promoting Walt Disney World, and by the time EPCOT Center went from city to him pushing two models together to reality, he was Vice-President of Creative Development of WED. Under the Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney Imagineering, he rose to President of Imagineering, where he stayed until his “retirement” in 2009, when he became “International Ambassador of Imagineering”. On July 17, 2009, he got his window on Main Street, U.S.A.
In 2013, Sklar released his book: Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdoms, which was followed in 2015 by One Little Spark!: Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering. He attended the opening of every single Disney park on the planet, the only Disney executive to have done so.
I knew him, but not well. We recognized each other and chatted when we saw each other, he remembered me even if it had been years and I always appreciated that. He was one of the few people who actually worked pretty closely with Walt Disney. How many people can say that?
I was one of the lucky ones who got to see him at the D23 Expo week before last. This was unexpected and a complete and utter loss. I think everyone is in shock right now.
Here’s a really great piece of art done by our dear friend David Derks:
Rest in peace, say hi to Walt and the gang…and thanks.