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Martin Sklar ’56

Posted On - July 31, 2017

Martin Sklar ’56 spent his 54-year professional career at the Walt Disney Company and served for many years as the keeper of Walt Disney’s philosophy within the organization. For 10 years, beginning almost from the day he graduated, he worked closely with Disney, putting Disney’s words, visions and philosophy to paper. He wrote personal material for Disney’s use on television, in publications and in certain films, including a 20-minute film that laid out Disney’s vision for Walt Disney World, including his concept of the EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) project.

Sklar led the formulation and creative direction for EPCOT, Disney’s vision of the “city of the future.” With the foundation of Disney’s idea, Sklar led the company’s creative team toward an execution of the project, bringing in experts of urban planning, design and engineering. He reached out to the sciences to address the needs and developments of the future, developing a program to enlist the largest companies in America to collaborate and sponsor the many pavilions encompassed in EPCOT.

En route to his position as executive vice president/Imagineering ambassador of Walt Disney Imagineering, Sklar continued to develop the creativity he showed as editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin. Within the Imagineering framework, he led the development of nine theme parks around the world and served the Disney organization as vice president of creative development, executive vice president, president and vice chairman/principal creative executive of Imagineering.

He helped design such Magic Kingdom attractions as the Enchanted Tiki Room, It’s a Small World and Space Mountain. He also condensed Disney’s ideas into a widely circulated creed called “Mickey’s 10 Commandments.” He was the only employee to participate in the opening of all 11 Disney theme parks around the world.

Even after retirement, Marty was a guest speaker many times for special talks at The Walt Disney Family Museum. In 2016, he was awarded the Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award. In June 2017, Marty was appointed to the museum’s advisory committee. Sklar received several awards for his work at Disney. In December 2001, he was named a “Disney Legend.” In 2005, he also became fifth inductee into the Daily Bruin Hall of Fame. Sklar was honored with the 2007 UCLA Award for Professional Achievement and served on the UCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2008-2010.

Marty Sklar also co-founded and served as the president of Ryman Arts, a foundation that offers intensive out-of-school studio art instruction, college and career counseling, art supplies, and support services–all at no cost–to over 600 students annually.

Sklar and his wife, Leah, founded the Michael L. Roston Creative Writings Awards for schoolchildren in Anaheim. Before moving to Los Angeles, he was elected to two terms on the board of education of the Anaheim City School District and served twice as board president. He also served two terms as president of the Orange School Board Association and as an Anaheim city commissioner for Cultural Arts and Parks and Recreation.

Sklar wrote two books about his time at Disney—“Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms” and “One Little Spark!: Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering”—and came to speak at the UCLA Alumni Association several times. He passed away in July 27, 2017 at the age of 83.