Walt Disney's Nephew, Roy, Dies at 79

Roy Disney, left, addresses a news conference with Stanley Gold at his side in Philadelphia Tuesday ,March 2, 2004. Disney and Gold, dissident ex-board members of The Walt Disney Co., said they will continue their battle to unseat chairman and CEO Michael Eisner beyond the company's official annual shareholders meeting Wednesday if the board does not fire him.
Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney who became a powerful behind-the-scenes influence on the family business, has died. He was 79.

The company announced that Disney died Wednesday in Newport Beach after a bout with stomach cancer.

"He was much more than a valued 56-year Company veteran - 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," said Bob Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

His father, Roy O. Disney, and uncle, Walt, founded The Walt Disney Co. in the 1920s. Walt was the company's creative genius but Roy Disney's father played a vital role as head of its financial side.

The younger Disney, born in 1930, worked for the company as a writer and producer. But his most important influence was as a Disney shareholder who led two investor revolts.

In 1984 he led a successful campaign to oust Walt Disney's son-in-law from the company. Nearly 20 years later, he launched another successful shareholder revolt against Michael Eisner.

Disney was a graduate of the Harvard School and Pomona College. He joined his father and uncle's company in 1953 as an assistant film editor.

He is survived by his wife, Leslie, four children from his marriage to Patricia Dailey Disney - Tim Disney, Roy Patrick Disney, Abigail Disney and Susan Disney Lord - and 16 grandchildren.