Posted by: Jonathan Barron | December 22, 2009

Roy E. Disney, 1930-2009

Roy Disney died on December 16, 2009 at his home in Newport Beach, California after a year long battle with stomach cancer.  He was 79 years old.  Roy Disney was the nephew of Walt Disney and was the last member of the Disney Family to work directly with the Walt Disney Company.

It would be no surprise if many of you have never heard of him before.  However, his impact on your’ childhood is undeniable.  Most importantly, his influence on animation will never be forgotten.  He is credited with revitalizing the Walt Disney Company in the late 80’s and thru the 90’s after a decade long stagnation.

Roy Disney is responsible for what is known as the “Golden Age” of Disney Animation.  He was the primary overseer behind “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, and “The Lion King”.  He is also responsible for completing one of his Uncle’s lifelong dreams of bringing the sequel of “Fantasia” to life with the release of “Fantasia:  2000”.

Mr. Disney often spoke of his fondness of growing up around the company and his Uncle Walt.  In interviews, he would often share stories of his Uncle taking time out of his busy schedule to read books to him.  In addition, young Roy was often asked by animators to view legendary films like “Pinocchio” to get a child’s reaction.  Mr. Disney understood the basic purity and roots of the Walt Disney Company and always fought for that preservation.

Mr. Disney was also known for speaking his mind in the matters of business.  This, sometimes, lacked immediate victory but is primarily credited with the removal of Michael Eisner after gaining the support of Disney’s board of directors.  After Eisner’s departure in 2005, Mr. Disney was named Chairman Emeritus and consultant.  It is a title he kept until his death.

Roy E. Disney was a dreamer and forward thinking man.  He believed that the future of The Walt Disney Company was always brighter than it’s past.  In refering to his company he said, “The goal is to look over our shoulder and see Snow White and Pinocchio and Dumbo standing there saying, ‘Be this good.’  We shouldn’t be intimidated by them; they’re an arrow pointing someplace”.  Well said Mr. Disney…rest in peace.

Jonathan Barron

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