Alain Littaye has broken the news that Imagineering legend and current “Imagineering Ambassador” Marty Sklar announced today his intention to retire. Sklar, in a letter to fellow Imagineers, stated that his last day with Imagineering will be July 17 – the anniversary of Disneyland’s opening. He has been working with the Walt Disney Company in various capacities for 53 years.
Sklar has a long and storied career with WDI, and is one of the few individuals remaining with the company to have worked closely alongside Walt Disney himself.
While a student at UCLA in 1955, Sklar was recruited before Disneyland’s opening to edit The Disneyland News, a souvenir newspaper that was sold in the park. After graduation in 1956 he joined the company full-time and helped to run the park’s publicity operations.
In 1961 Marty joined Imagineering – then called WED Enterprises – and became Walt’s personal speechwriter while also helping to recruit corporate sponsors for the 1964 World’s Fair. Many of the most famous speeches and television bits that Walt delivered in that era were written by Marty, including the famous EPCOT proposal film in 1966.
Sklar also helped develop attractions during this period, becoming Vice President of Concepts & Planning in 1974. While helping guide the creation of EPCOT Center he was named Vice President of Creative Development in 1979, and then Executive Vice President in 1982. Marty was Imagineering’s President and Vice Chairman from 1987 to 1996, and then became Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive. In 2006, on the heels of Imagineering’s 50th anniversary, Marty stepped down from his active role at WDI and became Imagineering’s official ambassador to the world. This was a largely ceremonial role, and I’m unsure how active Marty has been in day-to-day projects since.
While it’s understandable that after 53 years Marty might want to pack it in, it’s still sad to see him go. Regardless of what role he’s played recently, imagining WDI without him around is simply bizarre. Still, all things must pass and we wish Marty well. Keep in touch, ok?
UPDATE: Orlando Attractions Magazine has posted the text of Marty’s letter to his fellow Imagineers.