Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney and a key figure in the history of The Walt Disney Company, has died aged 79.
Disney died at Hoag Memorial hospital in Newport Beach, California following a year-long battle with stomach cancer. His death occurred just one day after the 43rd anniversary of his legendary uncle's death.
Roy E. Disney was the son of Roy O. Disney, who co-founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio with brother Walt in 1923. Born in 1923, he followed in his uncle's footsteps and joined the Walt Disney Company in 1953 as an assistant film director. He led a distinguished career that continued almost up to his death, receiving Oscar nominations for his work on Mysteries of the Deep in 1959 and Destino in 2003.
Despite these achievements, Roy E. Disney will be primarily remembered for his key role in two management revolts at the Disney company, both of which saw him campaigning for improved quality standards at the company's animation studios and theme parks.
Having been appointed as an executive director of the company in 1967, Disney resigned as an executive in 1977 and left the board of directors in 1984. Both decisions were made in protest against decisions made by the company's leadership, and helped to catalyse the replacement of CEO Ronald William Miller (Walt Disney's son-in-law) by Michael Eisner and Frank Wells.
Disney returned to the company as vice-chairman of the board of directors, but after initial success again grew frustrated with its direction. He eventually resigned from the board once again in 2003, issuing a letter severely criticizing Eisner's management of the company and of the theme park division in particular. A subsequent campaign, in which Disney was a figurehead, ultimately led to Eisner's resignation in 2005. Replacement Bob Iger brought Disney back into the fold as a non-voting director shortly afterwards.
Disney is survived by his wife, Leslie, and four children from a previous marriage. Flags at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will fly at half-mast for a week in honor of his memory.
A number of detailed obituaries to Roy E.Disney can be found online, including those listed below: