Word came over the weekend that Disney Legend Bob Matheison had passed away. He was 85.
He was born on January 30, 1934 in Portland, Oregon. In 1955, Bob graduated from the University of Southern California. He received a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications with an emphasis in radio. After college, he served two years with the United States Army at Fort Hood, Texas. He worked as chief of the radio-television branch of the information office. Matheison broadcast news and sports from WFAA in Dallas, Texas. He was the “voice” of the California Angels and the USC Trojans.
Matheison began his 34 year career with The Walt Disney Company in 1960 as a sound coordinator. He was responsible for programming anything audible to guests. This ranged from recorded music to teaching Jungle Cruise skippers how to speak into their microphones. Matheison used his broadcast experience to help produce radio and television broadcasts from Disneyland.
In 1965, Walt Disney selected Matheison to manage the four shows at the New York World’s Fair. They included Magic Skyway, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, ‘it’s a small world,’ and Carousel of Progress. Bob returned to California in 1966 to head the research and development team for Walt Disney World. He presented facts and recommendations to Walt about sizing, facilities, and other factors. This meant that he worked with executives and other employees to get Disney World ready and running. Bob also helped develop a 13-week executive training program for Walt Disney World. From there, he created a relocation program for those transferring to Central Florida from Southern California.
In 1970, Matheison was named Vice President of Walt Disney World Operations. He became Vice President of Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center in 1984, and Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World in 1987. He retired in 1994 after 34 years, and named a Disney Legend in 1996.