BURBANK, Calif., July 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Sam McKim, the legendary Disney
Imagineer who drew the first souvenir maps of Disneyland in 1954 and went on
to a spectacular 32-year career with Disney lending his artistic vision to
many popular theme park locations and attractions, died of heart failure on
Friday July 9th at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He was
79 years old. In addition to his Disney career, McKim started out as a child
actor who appeared in films with John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Rita
Hayworth and Gene Autry.
Commenting on McKim's passing, Marty Sklar, vice-chairman and principal
creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said, "Sam's early sketches
for Disneyland's Main Street and Frontierland are inspirational to Imagineers
-- among the very best ever drawn for Walt Disney theme park attractions. He
was the quintessential researcher; you always knew he would dig out the real
gems for our stories, especially for historical subjects. He had incredible
talent and was as fine a gentleman as you would ever want to know."
McKim joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as an
illustrator in 1954, six months before the opening of Disneyland. His initial
assignments included sketches for attractions, shops, and restaurants for Main
Street and Frontierland, including the Golden Horseshoe Revue. His early work
as a Disney artist also touched several of the Studio's films, including
"Zorro," "Johnny Tremain," "The Shaggy Dog," "The Gnome-Mobile," and "Nikki,
Wild Dog of the North." He went on to play a key role at the 1964-65 New York
World's Fair, for which he contributed sketches for all four Disney
attractions ("Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," "It's a Small World," "Carousel
of Progress," and "Magic Skyway.") His paintings also helped introduce the
public to the "Haunted Mansion" and the Monorail at Disneyland, and the "Hall
of Presidents" at the Magic Kingdom. Later, his artwork contributed to the
story development of Epcot pavilions, including the Universe of Energy, and
the Disney-MGM Studios, including "The Great Movie Ride."
John Hench, the late great Disney Imagineer who passed away earlier this
year, once observed of McKim, "Sam was the greatest to work with. He loved
Disney, and his enthusiasm was always contagious. Once he got involved in
anything, no matter how problematic, you always knew everything was going to
be okay. If I ever needed to hear the truth about something, I always went to
Born in Canada on December 20, 1924, McKim came to Los Angeles as a young
boy and became a child actor, working with many of the top stars of the day.
In fact, he didn't get the first Disney position he wanted, after auditioning
for the voice of Pinocchio in the 1930s. After serving in the U.S. Army in
World War II, McKim enrolled in Art Center College of Design. The day after
he graduated, he was called back to the Army to serve in Korea, where he
earned several medals and honors, including the Distinguished Service Cross
and the Bronze Star. Upon returning to the States, he took acting roles as
well as advanced art classes at the Chouinard Art Institute.
McKim recalled, "John Ford offered me a supporting lead in 'The Long Gray
Line' with Tyrone Power, Maureen O'Hara and Ward Bond. Would you believe I
turned it down to become an artist? I started at 20th Century Fox, then moved
to Disney for a temp job, and didn't leave until I retired 32 years later."
As one of a select group of Disney theme park cartographers, McKim's "fun
maps" charted the layouts of Disneyland (several editions), the Walt Disney
World Magic Kingdom, "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Tom Sawyer Island," and
Following his retirement from Imagineering in 1987, McKim remained
connected with WDI and Disney. In addition to appearances at Disney fan
events and consulting work, his two sons both worked for Disney -- Matt for
Imagineering, and Brian for Feature Animation. He also continued to be active
in the arts. His work can be found in the U.S. Air Force and L.A. County
Sheriff Department Collections, as well as in private collections.
McKim is survived by his wife, Dorothy; son Matt; son Brian and his wife,
Dorothy, and their two children, Tyler and Natalie. A graveside service will
take place this Friday (7/16) at 2:30 at Pierce Brothers Valhalla (10621
Victory Boulevard) in North Hollywood. A memorial service will follow at 4:30
at First Christian Church of North Hollywood (4390 Colfax Ave.) in Studio
City. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in McKim's name to the
American Heart Association (Gift Processing Dept., 1710 Gilbreth Road,
Burlingame, CA 94010 or online at www.americanheart-donate.org).
SOURCE Buena Vista Pictures Marketing