Roy E. Disney dead at 79


Former Walt Disney Company Vice Chairman Roy E. Disney has died. A family spokesman said he had been battling stomach cancer. The nephew of company founder Walt Disney was 79.

Roy Edward Disney practically grew up at the Disney studio, where his father (Roy O.) managed business affairs, while his uncle inspired artists to create magical animated worlds for movie screens. According to the Disney Legends website, young Roy was there when Snow White and Pinocchio were born and once recalled, “the animators used to test stuff out on me.”

After working in the family business for 23 years, Roy E. left to become an independent producer and investor. Through Shamrock Holdings he owned, among other things, a significant group of radio stations.

Roy E. returned to the company scene as an activist shareholder in 1984 and helped lead the effort to oust Walt’s son-in-law, Ron Miller, who had been President and CEO, to replace him with Michael Eisner. Nearly two decades later Roy E. and Eisner were at odds. Roy E. and Stan Gold resigned from the Disney board in 2003 and organized a “Save Disney” movement to press for Eisner’s ouster. It took nearly two years, but Eisner retired under pressure in 2005 and was succeeded by present CEO Bob Iger.

Shamrock Holdings continues to operate as an investment company for Roy E. Disney’s family and is headed by Stan Gold. It operates Shamrock Capital Advisors, which claims to have over $1.5 billion of capital committed to its investment funds.

Roy E. Disney is survived by two daughters and two sons, including Roy P. Disney, who has also been an owner of radio and television stations.