The death of Roy E. Disney Wednesday marked the end of the line for members of his family working at the Burbank-based entertainment giant created in 1923 by his father Roy O. Disney and by his uncle Walt Disney, a Disney spokesman confirmed to the Weekly.
Although Roy E. Disney famously resigned from Disney's board in 2003 after battling with then-CEO Michael Eisner, he retained the title of director emeritus at the company. "Roy was the last" Disney, said company spokesman Howard Green.
Roy E. died at age 79 at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach after a year-long battle with stomach cancer.
Disney kept Roy E.'s dark days with the company out of its official statement about his death. From 2003 to 2005 he established a website, SaveDisney.com, and staged a shareholder revolt against the company and the leadership of Eisner. The protest worked, and Eisner was ousted.
The company and Roy E. seemed to patch up their differences in recent years, with the family man, for example, executive producing the 2008 Disney documentary, Morning Light, about a Los Angeles-to-Honolulu sailing race in which he used to partake. "He was a well-loved figure here," Disney's Green said, sounding very much sincere.
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Disney graciously spins Roy E. as the man who helped it put contemporary, blockbuster animation on the map, crediting him with "an unprecedented string of artistic and box office successes that included The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King." And during his clash with Eisner, his biggest peeve was what he saw as corporate neglect of the studio's bedrock animation division.
"Roy's true passion and focus were preserving and building upon the amazing legacy of Disney animation that was started by his father and uncle," stated Bob Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "Roy's commitment to the art of animation was unparalleled and will always remain his personal legacy and one of his greatest contributions to Disney's past, present and future."
Besides sailing and Disney, Roy E. had Shamrock Holdings, the investment company he established in 1978, to keep him busy. It's has $1.5 billion in investments in play at the moment, according to Disney.
Roy E. is was credited by Disney for his philanthropy, including sponsoring the Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico and funding The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, which is slated to open in spring, 2010