Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roy E. Disney, RIP

Sorry to hear that Roy Disney has passed away today. (Interesting to remember that Walt died on Dec. 15, 43 years ago).

I have not seen him since a jovial conversation at a Christmas party three years ago, nor was I aware he was battling stomach cancer, which seems to have been the cause of death. Over the 20 or so years I knew him and he was always affable and down to earth. I remember one morning (right after RESCUERS DOWN UNDER wrapped)passing him on the main lot and I was a bit startled by his cheerful greeting: "Hi Will! How's it going?" -- I looked up and saw him waving his usual cigarette in hand, (tho he gave it up a few years later) and managed to return his greeting as casually as I could. It was just a casual blip but I could not get over the fact that here I was on Disney's fabled campus trading waves with Roy. His oft-remarked uncanny resemblance to Walt made it even more startling.

It is no exaggeration that his fierce protection of the Disney company was a primary and active and ongoing concern for him. The great 80's comeback was his doing and he was every bit as much the champion of the feature animation division, even in the mid-80's when its future was in doubt. He remained that champion through the years that followed and though he tended not to be as minutely "hands-on" as others, he was never simply a figurehead: his involvement and commitment were constant and as I moved into positions of more responsibility that was as obvious as it was welcome from the creative group. He was a genuine, flesh-and-blood link to the ideal we wanted to serve and we were lucky to have his enthusiastic and good-humored support.

My condolences to the family and thanks for the memories.


Eric Noble said...

Nice memories. I'm glad that he is at peace and no longer feels the pain of his cancer. I just hope he's with his dad and uncle now. He's earned his rest.

John S. said...

I have a particular memory of Roy that sticks in my head and brings tears to my eyes. It was at a post screening meeting on HoTR. I believe it was the first preview screening in..LaVerne? Anyway, Roy and Patty were there. We were discussing a some story point or another, and as usual, Alan was blustering, some other executive was pontificating...and an idea occurred to me. I leaned forward to try to break into the conversation, "I was thinking..." I was immediately cut off by Alan who had very little regard for anything that came out of anyone elses mouth. No one noticed I'd said anything...Except Roy who leaned forward and looked right at me expectantly, as did his then wife Patty. Their eyes said "We want to hear what you have to say, and we will wait until you say it" The other executives took Roy's cue and quieted down, and I finally was able to get my idea across. I always liked Roy. He was a sweet considerate man.

RooniMan said...

Oh no!

Eric Noble said...

Well John, it sounds like Roy definitely had a bit of his uncle in him, always willing to hear others ideas. It's too bad nobody else seems to have had Roy's sense of kindness. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Ron said...

Roy used to visit quite often when we were working on "Fantasia/2000" on Flower St. in the mid-90s. He always seemed to be genuine, having a true vested interest in the integrity of the Disney legacy.

Will Finn said...

Yet another reminder to remember not to take things or people for granted.

John I do remember that meeting. Roy was always very supportive of individuals, and even when he had "issues" he was usually the least imperial person in the room about it. Intimidation was not his style, authority was.