Roy E. Disney dies at 79

Roy Edward Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney Co. founder Walt Disney who was best known for revitalizing its animation unit and helping to oust longtime chief executive Michael Eisner, died on Wednesday at 79.

Disney, who had been ill with stomach cancer for a year, died at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California, the company said.

Starting out as an assistant film editor in 1953, Disney worked for more than half a century at the entertainment giant, where he was widely regarded as a fierce protector of the family's legacy and a champion of animation.

He was the last Disney family member to work at the company, family spokesman Cliff Miller said.

Disney is best known for his time as an executive for the global entertainment giant and as a powerful shareholder who twice led successful campaigns to oust company heads who he believed were leading the company in the wrong direction.

At the time of his death, Disney owned more than 16 million shares of common stock, which was worth $518 million at the close of trading on Wednesday, but retained no direct role in running the giant media company. He served as a consultant for Disney and a director emeritus for the board of directors.

The successful philanthropist, filmmaker and award-winning sailor helped to guide the studio with a string of animated box office hits including "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," and "The Lion King."

After graduating from Pomona College in 1951, the younger Disney followed his uncle Walt Disney and father Roy Oliver Disney into the entertainment industry, working as an editor, screenwriter and producer on a host of projects, from TV's Dragnet and Zorro to the Oscar-nominated film Mysteries of the Deep.

Disney was executive producer of "Fantasia/2000," a sequel to the 1940 Disney classic, and served in a similar capacity on a number of recent animated shorts.

Disney joined the company's board of directors in 1967. In 1984, however, his dissatisfication with how the company was being run by his cousin-in-law Ron Miller (married to Walt's daughter Diane Disney Miller) propelled him to resign from the board and lead a shareholder revolt in pursuit of new management.

Disney returned to the board of directors and served as head of the famed animation department but resigned again in 2003, this time citing serious differences with the direction Eisner was taking the company.

After his resignation, Disney helped establish the Web site called aimed at ousting Eisner.

At a 2004 annual shareholder meeting, an unprecedented 43 percent of Disney shareholders voted to oppose the reelection of Eisner to the board.

As criticism of Eisner intensified in the wake of the shareholder meeting, his position grew more tenuous. Eisner announced in March of 2005 that he would resign that September, one year before his contract expired.

At Iger's behest, Disney rejoined the company in July of 2005 as a non-voting director emeritus and consultant.

"He put his heart and soul into preserving Disney's legendary past, while helping to move the art of animation into the modern age by embracing new technology. Roy was a visionary and passionate supporter of the art form, and he was all about quality," said John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

Disney was born in Los Angeles on January 10, 1930 to Roy O. Disney and Edna Francis Disney.

He who also founded the private equity firm Shamrock Holdings, is survived by his wife, Leslie, and four children from his marriage to Patricia Dailey Disney - Tim Disney, Roy Patrick Disney, Abigail Disney and Susan Disney Lord - and 16 grandchildren.

Following private funeral services and cremation, the avid yacht-racer's ashes will be scattered at sea. Plans for a memorial will also be announced shortly, according to Walt Disney Co.

Via - Reuters



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