Roy Edward Disney, the nephew of legendary animator and producer Walt Disney, died this morning after a long battle with cancer, the LA Times reports. Disney served several notable stints as an executive on the board of directors for the Walt Disney Company and had perhaps the greatest influence on the creative and business direction the company took after the deaths of his uncle and father (company co-found Roy O. Disney) in the ’60s and ’70s.
Known to the public as the Disney share-holder who twice ousted senior management in order to align the company with his view of what family-oriented entertainment group should be. Disney also impacted the history of the company’s creative side in ways near and dear to the hearts of animation and comics fans. When he originally decided to become involved in the family business in a more significant way in 1984, Disney’s decision to quit the board of directors led to brand new senior management and a brand new slate of animated features. While both changes were championed by Disney, he particularly fought for the revival of the company’s feature animation department and (alongside executive Michael Eisner) pressed the company to invest in what would become a string of ’90s hits including “Beauty And The Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”
Over a decade later, when Eisner and Disney’s relationship had strained, the heir apparent to the Disney empire again quit and sued management, driving Eisner out. Only after incoming executive Bob Iger reached out to the elder Disney was the case dropped and a new leaf turned over. Since then, Iger and the Disney company have worked to bolster the company’s creative vision by placing Pixar head John Lasseter in charge of the entire Disney studio, reacquiring “lost” Walt Disney creation Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and most recently buying Marvel Entertainment.
Read the LA Times for a more complete obituary and look back to CBR for any new news on the future of the Walt Disney Company.