|By Keith Mahne|
Welcome to a brand new segment here on Disney Avenue called A Moment in Time where I ask big names in Disney history to share the backstory on a particular picture and post their response here for your enjoyment and knowledge. I absolutely love looking at old photos throughout Disney history. If you follow Disney Avenue on Facebook you'll see what I mean. But I often come across a photo like the one pictured above and think, "What was it like that day?"..."Where was this taken?"..."Who is that guy on the left?"..."Look at all those amazing drawings on the wall and that model on the table!" Unfortunately, we don't always get an opportunity to know the backstory of a particular photo, we just let our imaginations run wild. Well today friends, you'll know the one about this photo as I forwarded the picture to Marty Sklar and asked him to share as much info as he could for the Disney Avenue readers. Join us today for Marty's response to this wonderful "moment in time"...
My email to Marty:
I came across a wonderful picture during the creation of EPCOT and thought I'd forward it to you and get some feedback on it. Do you remember this day with John Hench? Was this just a publicity shot? Where was it taken? I absolutely love these older shots and would love your feedback on it if possible.
Marty Sklar's reply:
Keith – Of course I remember this photo! That’s John Hench in the middle, of course, and John DeCuir Jr. – designer and architect. John is the son of one of the motion picture world’s great production designers, John DeCuir Sr. (Cleopatra, South Pacific, etc. – Google him). He was WED’s art director for the original Hall of Presidents show for the Magic Kingdom (1971).
This was probably in the 1975-76 period, when we were developing the design concepts for Epcot Center. John DeCuir Jr. was a whiz at doing these studies of the key elements we were designing – how they related to one another, how much relative space they required, how people would move through the space. Of course we studied many different approaches, and then as the pavilion subjects fell into place, they were positioned on this and other kinds (and sizes) of models. Certain elements, like a “Theme Center”, dropped out in favor of a “Theme Show” – the original (1982) Spaceship Earth show that Ray Bradbury worked on with us. It was Ray’s descriptive and exciting words that brought the communications idea into focus – and enabled us the get the AT&T corporation of that time as Epcot’s theme show sponsor (of course, “participant” in Disney speak).
The picture was taken in our headquarters in Glendale. There are many of a similar nature that have been published. I think the best known is a picture of Card Walker, Disney’s CEO, with John Hench and Ray Bradbury and similar models of the time. It was our Epcot project “war room”, where we could study various approaches, and pin up descriptive ideas – see the wall behind the physical model.
It happens that John DeCuir Jr. liked to work with materials like this model, which had a lot more “flash” and show then styrofoam or cardboard models of the time. However, we did plenty of those as study models as well!
Hard to believe it’s been almost 40 years since this picture was shot! Thanks for the memories!
What a wonderful explanation to a great "moment in time". So if you ever come across this picture again, you'll know all about it thanks to the Legend himself, Marty Sklar. I hope you enjoyed our first Moment in Time article and stayed tune for many more!
You can hear my two interviews with Marty Sklar and many others for the Disney Avenue Podcast by clicking here.
Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true everyday.