Roy Disney Dead at 79

12/18/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Most people, even those familiar with the Walt Disney Corporation, may not know much about Walt's nephew, Roy Disney, and some may be entirely unaware he even existed. Big followers of the company or film business in general know that Roy was the last member of the Disney family involved in the company, and he consistently attempted to maintain the roots of his uncle's business until he was, for the lack of any better word, ousted by former Disney executive Michael Eisner, who was frequently butting heads with the animators at Pixar and started taking the company in sorry directions.

Roy passed away due to stomach cancer on December 16 at the age of 79. The moment I heard the news, I thought back to almost precisely 10 years prior, December 17, 1999. My family had been fortunate enough to manage to get tickets to the premiere of Roy Disney's passion project "Fantasia 2000" in New York City. Roy primarily produced the film with the desire to follow his uncle's wishes and continue "Fantasia" as Walt had originally intended. The premiere was almost surreal for someone like me who'd grown up with Disney, remembering watching the first "Fantasia" at a very young age and now seeing Walt's nephew up on stage introducing the follow-up, which would be accompanied by a live orchestra as opposed to the music playing from the film's soundtrack.

The film was wonderful, probably Disney's last truly great hand-drawn animated feature (though I've yet to see their latest), and afterwards, as many important people left the theater, my family and I managed to pass Roy as he exited. By complete chance, we caught his eye and when we asked to get pictures taken with him, he accepted. My older sister still has that photo to this day.

So, while some will be unaffected by Roy Disney's passing, it really means something to me, both as someone who luckily got to meet the man and as someone who really admires what he did for his uncle's company, which both helped to entertain me as a child and introduced me to my love of film in the first place. Roy's passing is the end of an era for the beloved company, and thankfully the new direction the company has taken--thanks to its partnership with Pixar--will continue taking it down the path back to its roots, just as Roy and his uncle would want.

RIP Roy Disney (1930-2009)

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  1. Parisian Heart said...

    What a beautiful post and tribute to a person whose life touched yours and countless others. I have goosebumps ... We need more people around with his brand of dedication and your brand of appreciation.

  2. Diana said...

    I had no idea that roy disney was still in the business and definitely had no idea he was battling cancer. I wonder why the press wasnt all over this? They are for all other movie people.
    Disney is wonderful and provides great enjoyment to children and adults. Its great that he continued fantasia as his uncle would have wanted. I did love that movie myself. Who didnt love Falcore!! Goodbye Roy, Job well done, rest in peace!