Walk Disney Imagineering is responsible for all the remarkable creations you find at the company's theme parks around the world. Today, the division is in mourning as one of the all-time great Imagineers has passed away. Martin "Marty" Sklar worked for Walt Disney beginning in 1955 and continued to do so until he retired in 2009. Sklar helped to design such famous attractions as Space Mountain, The Enchanted Tiki Room, and It's A Small World. Sklar died on Thursday at the age of 83.
Marty Sklar's life reads like the sort of imaginative fantasy you'd expect from a Walt Disney movie. In 1955, while still a student at UCLA, Sklar was recruited by Walt himself to create the Disneyland News, a newspaper to promote the impending opening of the Disneyland Park. After graduating in 1956 he went to work for Disney and never left. According to the Los Angeles Times, Sklar was responsible for writing speeches and marketing materials for the parks, before eventually becoming the creative leader of what would become Walt Disney Imagineering in 1961. In 1974 he would be named the vice president of concepts and planning, where he would oversee the development of EPCOT at Walt Disney World.
Between his numerous VP roles and his eventual run as president of Walt Disney Imagineering, Marty Sklar would oversee the development of multiple new Disney Parks including Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland Paris and Disneyland Hong Kong.
In 2006, after working for Disney for 50 years, Marty Sklar stepped down as president of Imagineering but continued to work as an "ambassador" for the organization, traveling to art and design colleges to hold seminars and scout for new talent. He finally retired in 2009.
Marty Sklar was named a Disney Legend in 2001. and most recently attended the D23 Expo in Anaheim just a couple of weeks ago. John Stamos, who moderated a panel with Sklar and other Imagineers quoted former Disneyland International head Jim Cora who called Sklar the Jiminy Cricket for the organization.
While Marty Sklar wasn't a household name, his work has influenced anybody who has ever walked through the front gate of a Disney Park. It will continue to do so through the other Imagineers that he inspired, but today is still a sad day as the world is a less creative place without him in it.
Photo Courtesy Disney/Walt Disney World News