Disney "played a key role in the revitalization of the Walt Disney Co. and Disney's animation legacy," the company said. He died in a Newport Beach, California, hospital at the age of 79. His father -- Roy O. Disney -- co-founded the Disney entertainment business with Walt Disney in 1923.
Roy E. Disney's 56-year association with the company culminated in 2003 when he stepped down as vice chairman of Disney's board and chairman of the Disney Studio's Animation Department. He kept the title director emeritus and consultant in recent years, the company said. "As head of Disney Animation, Disney helped to guide the studio to a new golden age of animation with an unprecedented string of artistic and box office successes that included 'The Little Mermaid,' 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'Aladdin' and 'The Lion King,' " the company said.
A private funeral service and cremation are planned, the company said. His ashes will be scattered at sea, it said. He was born in in Los Angeles seven years after his father and uncle began building the Disney empire. His entertainment career began in 1952 -- after he attended Harvard University and Pomona College -- with a job as an assistant film editor on the "Dragnet" TV series. He joined the family business a year later as an assistant film editor at the Walt Disney Studios. He received two Oscar nominations. One was as a writer and production associate on the 1959 short subject film "Mysteries of the Deep," and the second was for his work in 2003 as executive producer of "Destino," a film based on storyboards and original art by the iconic artist Salvador Dali.
Disney founded Shamrock Holdings, an investment company owned by the Disney family, in 1978. He also was an avid competitive sailor, the company said. He held several elapsed-time records for offshore races in the Pacific Ocean, including multiple wins in the 2,225-mile Transpac race between Hawaii and California, it said.
The following statement was issued by Bob Iger on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 12:14PM:
Subject: THE PASSING OF ROY E. DISNEY
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of our friend and colleague Roy E. Disney. After a courageous year-long fight with stomach cancer, he passed away peacefully this morning at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, surrounded by his loving family.
Roy played an important role in our lives here at Disney, and in the success of our Company over many years. Along the way, he touched many of us in a personal way. During his 56-year association with the Company, his true passion and focus was preserving and building upon the amazing legacy of Disney animation that was started by his father and uncle. His commitment to the art of animation was unparalleled and will always remain his personal legacy and one of the greatest contributions to Disney's past, present and future.
Roy not only helped to keep the legacy alive, but he also embraced new technologies, and gave the filmmakers the tools they needed to tell their stories in new and exciting ways. He encouraged talent, and loved working with the creative community. And they loved working with him.
Roy was a Disney Legend in every sense of the word, and his contributions to this great company have been profound and will always be remembered. For the next week we will be flying the Disney flag at half mast here at the Studio and at our parks, and I know you join me in sending thoughts and prayers to Roy's wife, Leslie, his four children, and his 16 grandchildren. For those who wish to pay their respects, the family has requested that donations be made in Roy's name to the California International Sailing Association (CISA) to benefit youth sailing.