Marty Sklar, Longtime Disney Aide and Executive, Dies at 83

Mr. Sklar, who died on July 27 at his home in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, maintained his connection to the company after his retirement in 2009 (timed for the 54th anniversary of Disneyland’s opening). Last year, at Day 1 of Shanghai Disney in China, he became the only cast member, as the company calls its workers, to have attended the openings of all 12 Disney parks worldwide. And less than two weeks before he died, he was at D23, a Disney fan convention, reminiscing on a panel about Disneyland.

His death was announced by the Disney company, which did not give a cause. He was 83.

Mr. Sklar’s job editing The Disneyland News was a temporary one, but he returned to Disneyland after graduating from U.C.L.A. in 1956 to work in its publicity department. He soon became Mr. Disney’s chief ghostwriter for publicity materials, dedications, souvenir guides, speeches, slogans, presentations and short films, like the one that helped the company win approval to build Walt Disney World and Epcot in central Florida. He also collaborated with Walt and his brother, Roy, on Disney’s annual reports.

“It was pretty heady stuff for someone just closing in on his 30th birthday and only six or seven years out of college,” Mr. Sklar wrote in his autobiography, “Dream It! Do It: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms” (2013).

But even as Mr. Disney leaned on Mr. Sklar’s writing, he assigned him to work on the Ford Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, where the Disney company was designing exhibits and attractions. Mr. Sklar wrote Mr. Disney’s narration for the “Magic Skyway” at the Ford pavilion, with its animatronic dinosaurs and cave men, and was the main link to major corporate sponsors.

It was the start of Mr. Sklar’s second phase at the company. As an increasingly important member, and leader, of the Imagineers, he became even more identified with the legacy of Mr. Disney, who died in late 1966, well before the openings of Walt Disney World, in 1971, and Epcot, in 1982.

After Mr. Disney’s death of lung cancer at 65, Mr. Sklar was thrust back into writing when he was told that the company’s top executives had not prepared a public statement in advance, even though, as he wrote in his autobiography, “it was no secret Walt was dying.”

Photo

Mr. Sklar in 2015 receiving the Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Award at a gala hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

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