ROY DISNEY, a son of one of the Walt Disney company founders and a regular visitor on sailing trips to Cork, has died in California.
The 79-year-old, who passed away on Wednesday after suffering from stomach cancer, twice led shareholder revolts which shook up the business formed in 1923 by his father, also Roy, and his uncle Walt Disney.
Although he generally stayed out of the spotlight, Roy Disney led 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 Michael Eisner, the man he had helped bring in after the previous ousting.
Two years before he was born, the company gave birth to its cartoon character Mickey Mouse and from the 1950s, he worked as an editor, screenwriter and producer. Between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, he became the company’s vice-chairman and chairman of its animation division, where he helped oversee the making of such hit films as 1994’s The Lion King.
Donal McClement, a former officer of the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Cork Week regatta in Crosshaven, recalled crewing with him at the biannual event on three occasions after Mr Disney bought Coolmaine Castle in west Cork in the early 1990s. “He was a quiet, unassuming guy and he loved the anonymity he could find staying here. But every time he came to Cork Week he probably contributed quarter of a million pounds with all the crew he brought,” Mr McClement said.
“He also left a legacy by setting up a bursary at the yacht club to encourage young people to take up sailing,” he said.
Mr Disney took part in the Cork event in 1992, 2000 and 2004, and was also a regular with his yacht, Pyewacket, at the Transpacific Yacht Race between California and Hawaii.
Born in Los Angeles on January 10, 1930, Roy Edward Disney was Roy and Edna Disney’s only child. As an adult, he often wore a moustache, which gave him a striking resemblance to his legendary uncle.
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