Roy Disney dies of stomach cancer

MUMBAI: Roy E Disney, nephew of Walt Disney who helped rejuvenate the animation division of the company, died of stomach cancer at the age of 79 in Newport Beach, California.

Roy Disney’s survivors include his wife, Leslie DeMeuse Disney. He is also survived by his former wife of 52 years, Patricia Dailey Disney, and four of their children Tim, Roy Patrick, Abigail and Susan Disney Lord.

Roy Disney was the last member of the Disney family to work at the entertainment conglomerate built jointly by his uncle and his father Roy O Disney.

In 1984, when Disney weathered two takeover attempts, Roy Disney helped force the resignation of Ronald W Miller, the husband of Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane, as chief executive.

In 2004, when Pixar was giving Disney a run at the box-office, Roy helped lead an investor uprising that ended with the departure of Michael D Eisner as chief executive and chairman.

Along the way, Roy organised Shamrock Holdings, a family investment enterprise that became known for instigating hostile takeovers, including an ultimately failed one of Polaroid in the late 1980s.

Roy was born in Los Angeles on 10 January, 1930, and had a childhood that most people can only dream about. While playing at the studio, his uncle would occasionally take a break to read storybooks to him.

Roy began his entertainment career in 1952 as an assistant film editor on Dragnet, the landmark television show. He joined Disney in 1953 and worked on nature documentaries like The Living Desert and The Vanishing Prairie, both of which won Oscars. He also wrote for Zorro.

Although he continued to be a board member, Roy left the company in 1977 after a disagreement within the company and turned an independent producer.

Coming back to the company in 1984, Roy set about revitalising the floundering animation division. He obtained financing, for instance, for a computerised post production facility, helping to make possible the revolving ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast.

Citing “serious differences of opinion about the direction and style of management,” Roy resigned for the second time in 2003 and started agitating for Eisner’s ouster. But in 2005, after Eisner announced his departure, Roy became director emeritus and a consultant, that he held until his death.

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