Very sad news today for Disney fans everywhere: Roy E. Disney has died at the age of 79.
Roy, the son of Roy O. Disney and nephew of Walt, had been battling cancer.
Roy played a critical role in the revival of Disney animation, heading the animation department during the studio's "second golden era" which included the release of classics including THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE LION KING, and ALADDIN.
He was with the company for a total of 56 years. The story of Roy gaining financial control of the company in the '80s is detailed in the Los Angeles Times. Those who love Disney owe Roy a debt of gratitude for, in essence, saving the company and taking it to the next level as an entertainment giant.
In more recent years, Roy used an internet website, saveDisney.com, to gain shareholder backing to unseat Michael Eisner when he felt that the animation division and theme parks were being neglected.
A complete biography is at the official Disney Parks Blog (click the title of this post). I'm sure a great deal more will be published about Roy Disney in the days to come.
It's very sad to see such a key figure in Disney history pass from the scene. Like his father and uncle, Roy E. Disney was one of a kind.
Update: An appreciation by the L.A. Times: "Roy Edward Disney...was loved and respected within the animation industry as a link to the art form's glorious past, a defender of its exciting, chaotic present and a hope for its often-uncertain future."
Thursday Update: Tributes from The Shelf, D23, MiceAge, Wade Sampson at MousePlanet, and Leonard Maltin, whose eulogy contains a simple yet profoundly true statement: "Disney fans owe him a lot."
MiceAge reports that Disneyland pennants, including the one atop the Main Street Train Station, will be at half mast for the next week.