These days, a career that spans fifty-plus years at one company sounds like a pipe dream. The late John “Flossie Mae” Raiford delivered food to drive-in clients at The Varsity in Atlanta for 56 years. Earlier this year, one of Kroger’s executives retired after a half century with the grocery chain. Google “50 year career” and you’ll find plenty of charming and inspiring stories of long careers with a single employer. And then there’s Marty Sklar.
Sklar was still a fresh-faced college student and editor of UCLA’s Daily Bruin when Disney hired him to create a souvenir newspaper for their new park, Disneyland. Following his graduation in 1956, he joined Disney full time. He began writing speeches and articles for Walt Disney himself, and after Walt’s death, Sklar moved up the ranks in Imagineering until his retirement in 2009. Lucky for us, Sklar has finally told the story of his 53 year career at Disney in his new book Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms (also available for Kindle).
Dream It! Do It! reads as part memoir, part inspirational tome. Sklar writes in a conversational style – you can really imagine him telling the stories directly to you. He shares his memories of working with Walt Disney, including some stories most readers have never heard. He relates the ups and downs of working at Imagineering – the successes, the projects that required a second try, even the moments where language and cultural barriers presented challenges. In one particularly poignant moment, he expresses his anger at having to write Walt’s obituary the day he died rather than planning ahead when many at the studio knew Walt was terminally sick.