Disney Legend Lucille Martin, noted for her roles as Walt Disney’s personal assistant and later vice president and special assistant to The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors, passed away on October 24. Throughout her tenure with The Walt Disney Company, Lucille also assisted former CEOs Ron Miller and Michael Eisner. She passed away at her home in Studio City, California, due to complications from cancer, at the age of 90.
“From the day Lucille Martin stepped into Walt Disney’s office as his personal assistant in 1965, she brought her warm smile and kind ways to the studio every day of her 42 years with Disney,” Bob Iger, Disney Chairman and CEO, says. ”Lucille’s compassion, dedication and love for Disney are what made her such a valued colleague, treasured friend and Disney Legend. I speak for everyone at Disney in extending our most heartfelt condolences to Lucille’s family—she will be greatly missed.”
Dorothy Lucille Martin was born on August 10, 1922. The Illinois native planned to be a teacher, and had attended Southern Illinois Normal University and earned her state teaching credential there. But when the young single mother of a 5- and 10-year-old moved to California, her Illinois credential was not valid. She chose to put her secretarial skills to work instead.
One Friday in September of 1964, a few weeks after the World Premiere of Mary Poppins, Lucille typed up a resume and stopped by the Studio to inquire about work. She was hired on the spot. Lucille started in the secretarial pool the following Monday and was immediately sent to work for Donovan Moye in Publicity. She worked briefly for the vice president of Labor Relations, Bonar Dyer, and in early 1965 was called to report to Walt’s office.
“Walt made me feel comfortable right away,” Lucille once recalled. “He saw himself as an ordinary guy.” Walt took special care of his office staff, and Lucille remembered many kindnesses. “I had a hard time not calling him ‘sir.’ I’d say, ‘Yes, sir,’ and he’d say, smiling, ‘Yes, Walt.’ After about a week he gave me a drawing of a girl carrying a sign that read ‘DOWN WITH SIR.’ I kept it on my intercom the whole time I worked for him. I still have it.”
After Walt’s death, Lucille stayed on for a year to help close the office, and then worked for Ron Miller in the Studio, moving with him as he ascended to president of the Company in 1980 and CEO in 1983. After Ron retired in 1984, Lucille was asked to stay on in Michael Eisner’s office. “Lucille embodies that rare combination of loyalty, dedication, talent, tact, and trust so necessary to the smooth operation of an executive staff,” Michael said at the time.
“I have enjoyed all my days at Disney,” Lucille concluded. “When Michael came, I was surprised he wanted me to stay on as his assistant. When I got my 20-year service award, he made a speech about how glad he was to be at Disney. Then he twinkled—like Walt—and added ‘And I got Lucille!’ Everyone applauded, and I felt wonderful!”
In 1995, Lucille was promoted to vice president and special assistant to The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors. In this role, she served as a liaison between Company management and the Board. “It was quite a surprise,” Lucille said of her promotion. “I had no idea at all, and I loved it, naturally.” She retired from this position in January 2006 and was inducted into the Disney Legends in 2007.
Lucille is survived by her daughter Janet Hoey-Klick, her son-in-law, Michael Klick, and her granddaughter, Caitlin Hoey-Klick. Another daughter, Sue, passed away in 1998. She was married to Don Martin from 1969 until his death in 2009.
Lucille will be interred at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona Del Mar, California.