Roy E. Disney

From Academic Kids

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Roy Edward Disney (born January 10, 1930) is the son of the late Roy Oliver Disney and Edna Francis, and nephew of Walt Disney. He first began working for the Walt Disney Company as an assistant film editor of "True-Life Adventure" films in 1954. He married Patricia Ann Dailey in 1955 and is a father of four. He continued to work as a writer, director and producer until 1967 when he was elected to the Board of Directors of the company.

He resigned as an executive in 1977 due to disagreements with his colleagues' decisions at the time. As he claimed later, "I just felt creatively the company was not going anywhere interesting. It was very stifling." But he still retained a seat on the board of directors. His resignation in 1984 was the beginning of a series of developments in the management department during the year including the replacement of company president and CEO Ronald William Miller (married to Walt's daughter Diane Marie Disney) by Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. Roy soon returned to the company as vice-chairman of the board of directors, and head of the animation department.

He set his goal as revitalizing the company's tradition of animated feature films and by the end of the decade there were successes in this department. Employees of the department have praised Roy for giving them lots of artistic freedom on their projects. During the 1990s Roy's department produced a number of commercially successful, critically acclaimed films and the era has been called a renaissance for the company and animation in general, though there was a decline in profits starting at the end of the decade. On October 16, 1998 in a surprise presentation made at the newly unveiled Disney Legends Plaza at the company's headquarters, Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner presented him with the prestigious Disney Legends Award.

Roy's pet project was the film Fantasia 2000, a sequel to the 1940 animated movie Fantasia produced by his uncle Walt Disney. Walt Disney had planned a sequel to the original movie but it was never made. Roy decided to make this long-delayed sequel, and he was the executive producer of the film that took nine years to produce and was finally released on December 17, 1999. Like its predecessor the film combines high-quality contemporary animation and classical music. Many view it in the upper echelon of Disney movies.

Roy has gained celebrity status. He was the last member of the Disney family to be actively involved in the company. He has been compared to both his uncle Walt Disney and his father Roy Oliver Disney, and he is said to resemble them both in appearance and personality. Forbes magazine has estimated his personal fortune at about USD$900 million.

After a struggle with CEO Michael Eisner, Roy Disney's influence began to wane as more executives friendly to Eisner were appointed to high posts. When the board of directors rejected Disney's request for an extension of his term as board member, he announced his resignation on November 30, 2003, citing "serious differences of opinion about the direction and style of management" in the company. He issued a letter criticizing Eisner for mismanaging the company, neglecting the studio's animation division, failures with ABC, timidity in the theme park business, instilling a corporate mentality in the executive structure, turning the Walt Disney Company into a "rapacious, soul-less" company, and of refusing to establish a clear succession plan.

After his resignation, Disney helped establish the website, intended to oust Michael Eisner and his supporters from their positions and revamp the Walt Disney Company.

On March 3, 2004, at Disney's annual shareholders' meeting, a surprising and unprecedented 43% of Disney's shareholders, predominantly rallied by former board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, voted to oppose the reelection of Eisner as chairman and CEO. This led the board of directors to strip him of his chairmanship and give that position to George Mitchell. It also led to speculation that he will resign as CEO before his contract ends in 2006.

On March 13, 2005, Disney announced that Robert A. Iger would replace Eisner as CEO on October 1, one year before his contract expires. Eisner, however, will receive his salary until his contract ends in 2006. Though Roy looked forward to the ousting of Eisner, reports indicate he is unhappy with his replacement, Iger, so he may continue his crusade to revamp his family's company.

Jim Hill reported on his website on May 9 2005, that The Walt Disney Company have approached Roy to read Walt Disney's opening day dedication at Disneyland on the park's fiftieth birthday, July 17. It is not known what Roy's answer is.

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