Roy Edward Disney January 10, 1930—December 16, 2009
Roy Disney was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Edna (née Francis) and Roy Oliver Disney, and nephew of Walt Disney. He graduated from Pomona College in 1951 and first began working for The Walt Disney Company as an assistant director and producer (True-Life Adventure). He continued until 1967 when he was elected to the Board of Directors of the company.
Roy Disney was noted for films about nature and his biggest accomplishment was returning the company to the animation film business after successfully forcing out two top executives.
Disney helped bring the company back to popular animated films such as ‘The Little Mermaid’ and the ‘Lion King’ which also went on to be a Broadway play for years.
Away from his work, Disney was an active philanthropist, supporting the California Institute of the Arts, a school founded by his father and uncle Walt.
In his spare time he bought a castle in Ireland as a holiday home and indulged his passion for yacht racing, setting several speed records. For years he was a fixture at the Transpacific Yacht Race between California and Hawaii, setting a course record in 1999 when he won the race at the helm of his 74ft sloop Pyewacket, named after the witch’s cat in the 1958 film ‘Bell, Book and Candle.’
In 1999 he matched a gift from The Walt Disney Company to establish an experimental theatre space, named after his parents, as part of The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. In 2005 he pledged $10 million to establish the Roy and Patricia Disney Cancer Centre in Burbank, California.
On December 16, 2009, Disney, who had suffered from stomach cancer for a year, died at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, California. His death occurred 43 years and one day after Walt Disney died (also from cancer), exactly 12 years after his aunt?Lillian Bounds Disney, and 4 days before the 38th anniversary of his father’s death. Roy E. Disney’s passing came less than a month before what would have been his 80th birthday. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.
Disney 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. He is also survived by 16 grandchildren.