Legendary Disney Imagineer Sam McKim, who drew the first souvenir maps of Disneyland in 1954, died of heart failure on Friday, July 9, at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif. He was 79 years old.
McKim enjoyed a 32-year career with Disney. He joined WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as an illustrator six months before the opening of Disneyland. His initial assignments included sketches for attractions, shops and restaurants for Main Street and Frontierland. He also contributed to such films as Zorro, Johnny Tremain, The Shaggy Dog, The Gnome-Mobile and Nikki, Wild Dog of the North.
His paintings also helped introduce the public to the Haunted Mansion and the Monorail at Disneyland, as well as the Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom. Later, McKim’s artwork contributed to story development for such Epcot pavilions as the Universe of Energy, and Disney-MGM Studios attractions such as The Great Movie Ride.
The Canadian-born artist started his career in Hollywood as a child actor, appearing in films with John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Rita Hayworth and Gene Autry. His Army service in Korea earned him several medals and honors, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Bronze Star. McKim’s passing closely follows the death of fellow Imagineering legend John Hench, who took the ultimate E-Ticket ride earlier this year.
McKim is survived by wife Dorothy, son Matt, son Brian and grandchildren Tyler and Natalie. A graveside service will take place Friday, July 16, at 2:30 at Pierce Brothers Valhalla, located at 10621 Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood. A memorial service will follow at 4:30 at First Christian Church of North Hollywood at 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).