After Walt Disney’s passing, Marty Sklar wrote this as a part of the Disney companies response.
There is no way to replace Walt Disney. He was an extraordinary man. Perhaps there will never be another like him. I know that we who worked at his side for all these years will always cherish the years and the minutes we spent in helping Walt Disney entertain the people of the world. The world will always be a better place because Walt Disney was its master showman.
Walt’s passing came as a surprise. Literally days before, he was at his studios talking with his employees and working on classics like the Jungle Book, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Florida Project.
Walt loved to walk in on his employees and see what they were up to. He was a very hands-on leader. “Walt would always spontaneously drop into your room to chat and wee what you were doing,” Fred Joerger explained. “By the time he left, you were fired up with excitement about whatever it was you were working on.” Walt couldn’t act like a business man; his creative juice was flowing everywhere he could fit it in.
So it was no surprise when he walked into Marc Davis’s office in late 1966. Marc was one of the early animators at the Disney studios, and Walt had pulled him into the theme park business. At the time, he was working on an Audio-Animatronics musical show for a park called Mineral King that would have been built in Northern California. The animatronics would all be bears, and they would entertain guests with good ol’ country music. Marc was developing concepts for the show and had completely covered his walls with sketches of bears. This concept later became The Country Bears.
Walt walked in to Marc’s office for a normal visit. He immediately spotted a sketch of a bear playing a tuba, and burst out laughing. He was hysterical. Trying to hold back the laughter, Walt told Marc he “really had a winner here with these musical bears.”
Walt turned to leave, stopped, and said, “Good-bye, Marc.” Marc was a bit surprised, because Walt typically made a point of not saying “good-bye.” Instead, he’d say “so long” or “see ya.” It was just a few days later that Walt passed. Marc believed that was the last real good laugh Walt had.