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Roy Edward Disney, KCSG (January 10, 1930-2009), a long-serving senior executive for The Walt Disney Company, which was founded by his uncle, Roy Oliver Disney, and uncle Walt Disney.
At the time of his death, he owned more than 16 million shares (roughly 1% of the company) and worked as a consultant for the firm as Director Emeritus for the Board of Directors.
He is perhaps best known for orchestrating the dismissal of two top Disney executives, Ron Miller in 1984 and Michael Eisner in 2005. Roy Disney was often compared to his uncle and father as the last member of the Disney family to be actively involved in the company.
Forbes magazine estimated his personal fortune at $1.2 billion in 2006.Disney was also a member of the San Diego Yacht Club who was best known for his success in the Transpacific Yacht Race in 2006.
Disney held several sailing speed records, including the Los Angeles to Honolulu monohull time record. In July 1999 (7 days, 11 hours, 41 minutes, 27 seconds), he set it on his boat Pyewacket.
According to court records, Leslie DeMeuse, Disney (then 77), a husband and his wife, Patricia (then 72), filed for divorce from him on January 19, 2007. According to a Los Angeles County Superior Court filing, the couple, who were married 52 years ago, had been living apart. They had four adult children, Abigail Disney, Susan Disney Lord, Tim Disney (a documentary film maker). Roy Patrick Disney (father of actor Charlee Corra Disney) and his daughter, Roy Patrick Disney (father).
In 2008, Disney married DeMeuse, a CSTV engineer and Emmy Laureate of numerous sailing documentaries.
Early life and career
In Los Angeles, California, Disney's son Edna (née Francis; 1890-1904) and Roy O. Disney (1893-1981), Walt Disney's uncle, was born. He graduated from Pomona College in 1951 and began working with Walt Disney Productions as an assistant director and producer (true-Life Adventure). He continued until 1967, when he was elected to the company's board of directors.
In 1977, Disney resigned as an executive from Walt Disney Productions due to internal disagreements over corporate decisions. "I just felt artistically that the company wasn't going to be anywhere new," he later said. It was very stifling."
Until 1984, Disney retained a seat on the board of directors until he resigned in the middle of a corporate takeover controversy. This started a chain of events that culminated in Ron Miller's (husband of Walt's daughter Diane Marie Disney) replacement by Frank Wells and Michael Eisner as president and CEO. As investors were attempting to prevent the hostile takeover of Disney with the intention of dismantling the business and selling off its assets, Disney and his financial advisor Stanley Gold formed a group of white knight investors to keep the takeovers off. Roy returned to the company as vice chairman and chairman of the animation group, which later became Walt Disney Feature Animation, with the addition of Wells and Eisner.
During the late 1980s and 1990s, Disney's department produced a number of commercially lucrative and critically acclaimed films, which has been dubbed the "Disney Renaissance." For instance, the Lion King's debut in the summer of 1994 was the second-highest-grossing film of the year. Despite this, Disney saw a dramatic decrease in profits in the late 1990s as it developed into lower-grossing, but also profitable direct-to-video spin-offs and sequels.
Disney was concerned that Jeffrey Katzenberg was not being praised enough for Disney's early 1990s debuts. Michael Eisner refused to advance Katzenberg to the vacant presidency after Frank Wells died in a helicopter crash in 1994. "Roy [Walt Disney's nephew and a control on Disney's board] who did not like him at all, and Eisner said," I forget the reason, but Jeffrey did not treat him the way Roy would have wanted to be treated,'" Eisner said to me, "I think you should start a proxy war." Katzenberg resigned from the firm in October because of tensions with him, Eisner, and Disney. Katzenberg filed a lawsuit against Disney to recover money he owed and dropped out of court for an estimated $250 million.
Eisner presented Disney with the Disney Legends Award on October 16, 1998 at the company's headquarters, during a surprise presentation. The film Fantasia 2000, a sequel to his uncle's 1940 animated film Fantasia, was Disney's pet project. Walt Disney had planned a sequel to the original film but it wasn't until 1999, after nine years of Disney production. The film, like its predecessor, mixed high-quality contemporary animation and classical music, but it also suffered at the US box office.
Disney's popularity began to wane as key executive positions were filled by those friendly to Eisner as a result of badwill. When the board of directors turned down Disney's offer for a member extension, he resigned as a member, citing "serious differences of opinion about the company's direction and style of management" in the event. He wrote a letter criticizing Eisner's suspected mismanagement, neglect of the studio's animation division, failures with ABC, mistrust in the theme park industry, corporate mentality in the executive structure, which culminated in the Walt Disney Company's conversion to a "rapacious, soul-less" conglomerate and the inability to establish a concrete succession strategy.
After his departure, Disney helped establish SaveDisney.com, which was designed to depose Michael Eisner and his allies from their positions and rewrite the Walt Disney Company. A surprising 43% of shareholders, mostly led by Disney and fellow board member Stanley Gold, voted against Eisner's re-election to the corporate board of directors on March 3, 2004. This vehement resistance, which is unprecedented in large public corporations, prompted the board to replace Eisner as chairman with George J. Mitchell; the board did, however, retain as chief executive. Mitchell himself was regarded favorably by this "Save Disney" campaign, but 25% of shareholders opposed Mitchell's re-election to the board in the same election.
Eisner's position became more fragile as the shareholder meeting progressed, culminating in his resignation as CEO on March 13, 2005, one year before his deal came to an end. Roy and the Walt Disney Company decided on July 8 to "put aside their differences." Roy resigned as a non-voting chairman emeritus and consultant. Roy and Goldwell's SaveDisney.com website was shut down earlier this year, on August 7th.
Eisner resigned as both CEO and board member on September 30, as announced. He discontinued all formal business relations with the organization and wrote a letter from the company's Burbank headquarters to the use of a corporate jet, a Golden Pass, and an office at the Burbank headquarters. Eisner's long-servant, who had been effectively running the company, now has the rank of CEO. Eisner's well-publicized contests with long-time production partner Pixar Animation Studios and CEO Steve Jobs, with whom Disney had produced such computer-animated hits as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo, which were both critically acclaimed and financially profitable for both partners. The company recovered quickly, and on January 24, 2006, Iger reported the acquisition of Pixar in an all-stock deal worth $7.4 billion. Jobs, who is best known as co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc, Disney's largest shareholder with 7% of all outstanding shares, was given a new seat on Disney's board of directors as a result of the merger. Eisner, who held 1.7% of the shares, became Disney's second-largest shareholder, closely followed by Roy Disney with 1% of shares. In James B. Stewart's best-selling book, DisneyWar, James B. Stewart chronicled Eisner's second "Save Disney" effort against Eisner.