Fellow Disney Imagineer Remembers Marty Sklar: "The Essence of Walt Flowed Through Him"

Marty Sklar - Imagineering Vice Chairman - Principal Creative Executive 2005- AP Photo-ONE TIME USE-H 2017
Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

Bob Gurr recalls working alongside Sklar, who passed away on July 27 at age 83, in the '50s.

Marty and I started in the months before Disneyland opened. I began in 1954, he started in '55. Walt Disney put him to work doing some writing and really trusted Marty, even though he was just 19 or 20. They got very close, and Marty absorbed Walt's philosophy about how you tell stories in a theme-park setting. Marty then became the best mentor you could have for thousands of imagineers, sharing Walt's wisdom about the things that keep Americans strong, how you treat people right and how you tell stories to families in a joyful, meaningful manner.

In October 1954, ABC's Disneyland show went on the air. Walt was the host and knew what he wanted to say, but he wasn't an actor. Marty, though, understood how to put Walt's thoughts into words that would work on camera. They gradually refined Walt's TV persona until he could express himself without a sputter. Marty was a nurturing guide who made sure the essence of Walt flowed through him, all the way until today. That is what Marty did. ­

Gurr, 85, designed most of the ride vehicles at Disneyland, including Autopia and the monorail.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.