Thursday, December 17, 2009

Roy Disney Dead at 79

Roy Disney, nephew of Walt, has died:
Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney whose powerful behind-the-scenes influence on The Walt Disney Co. led to the departure of former chief Michael Eisner, has died. He was 79.

The company announced that Disney died Wednesday in Newport Beach, Calif., after a yearlong bout with stomach cancer.

Company president and chief executive Bob Iger said Disney was much more than a valued 56-year company veteran.

Although he generally stayed out of the spotlight, Roy Disney didn't hesitate to lead a successful campaign in 1984 to oust Walt Disney's son-in-law after concluding he was leading the company in the wrong direction.

Nearly 20 years later, he launched another successful shareholders revolt, this time against Eisner, the man he'd helped bring in after the previous ouster.

Eisner and his wife issued a statement expressing their sympathies over Disney's death.

Disney War, the story of Roy Disney and his work to get Miller ousted, Eisner hired, then fired makes for fascinating reading; it says something about Disney that Eisner would be moved to issue a statement expressing sympathy. (I guess it says something about Eisner, too.)

Definitely the end of an era.

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