Sam McKim, an artist who drew the original souvenir maps of Disneyland, died on July 9 of heart failure. He was 79.
McKim joined Disney in 1954 as one of the first designers of the Anaheim amusement park (a.k.a. “The Happiest Place on Earth”). The “Imagineer” spent the next three decades producing sketches of attractions and shops that later inspired the architects of Main Street and Frontierland. McKim’s artwork also contributed to the development of pavilions at Epcot in Orlando and to the Disney attractions showcased at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair.
Born in British Columbia, McKim moved to Los Angeles as a young boy. He became a child actor and appeared in more than 50 films alongside Gene Autry, James Cagney, Rita Hayworth, Spencer Tracy and John Wayne.
In 1942, McKim became an American citizen in order to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. He graduated from the Art Center College of Design then was called back into the service to fight in Korea, where he earned the Distinguished Service Cross and the Bronze Star. Upon his return to the states, McKim worked in the Twentieth Century Fox Studios art department and studied at the Chouinard Art Institute.
Although McKim retired from Imagineering in 1987, his legacy lives on. He was named a Disney Legend in 1996. Both of his sons later worked for Disney — Matt in Imagineering and Brian in Feature Animation. McKim also agreed to come out of retirement to help create the first souvenir map of Disneyland Paris.