Marty Sklar, Legendary Disney Imagineer, Dies at 83

Marty Sklar - Getty - H 2017

Sklar was one of the last links with company founder Walt Disney.

Legendary Disney Imagineer Marty Sklar passed away in his Hollywood Hills home on Thursday. He was 83.

Over a career that spanned 54 years, Sklar worked closely with Disney founder Walt Disney, helping him to shape and realize his creative vision and was integral to the development of Disney's theme parks. 

“Everything about Marty was legendary — his achievements, his spirit, his career,” said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “He embodied the very best of Disney, from his bold originality to his joyful optimism and relentless drive for excellence. He was also a powerful connection to Walt himself. No one was more passionate about Disney than Marty and we’ll miss his enthusiasm, his grace and his indomitable spirit.”

Born in New Brunswick, N.J., in 1934, Sklar's career at Disney began 1955, while still in college, when he was recruited to create The Disneyland News paper for the recently opened Anaheim theme park. After graduating from UCLA in 1956, Sklar joined Disney full time and would work closely with the founder, scripting Walt Disney's speeches and developing marketing materials for Walt Disney World and Epcot

Sklar would cement his Disney legacy by becoming the company's top Imagineer, helping to create and develop theme parks around the world for over three decades. He supervised the design and construction of huge projects like Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris and was one of the few people at Disney to have attended the opening of all of the company's parks, including Shanghai Disneyland last year. 

He retired as executive vice president and Imagineering ambassador on July 17, 2009, Disneyland’s 54th birthday. For his pivotal role in the history of the company, Sklar was named a Disney Legend in 2001. 

Sklar is survived by his wife of 60 years, Leah; son Howard and his wife, Katriina Koski-Sklar; grandchildren Gabriel and Hannah; daughter Leslie; and grandchildren Rachel and Jacob.