Thursday, 17 December 2009
ROY DISNEY: THE GUARDIAN OBIT
My obituary of Roy Disney is up at Guardian.co.uk (click here) and should be in tomorrow's print edition. It was shortened somewhat, and what was lost was my observation that Roy's life in the Disney business was re-enacted in many of the Disney films he supervised, most notably The Lion King --his resemblance to his uncle Walt was striking, and he twice exiled himself from the Disney board, only to return both times and, if not assume the role of leader that his uncle had, at least keep the company running the way he thought Walt would have wanted. Although he was ruthless as a corporate raider, when it came to Disney he had a firm belief in the company's traditional core values. I was also not surprised at all when Bob Iger survived the Eisner purge; I worked for Bob at ABC Sports and watched his ascent through Capital Cities/ABC, and throughout that time what stood out to me was Bob's belief in doing well what the company was created to do. It would have been nice to have more time to discuss Roy's personal life, or the very bitter feud with Jeffrey Katzenberg (in many ways, more than Eisner, Roy's polar opposite--or polar express opposite) or the books by Bob Thomas and James Stewart on the two Disney crises (the Stewart is the better), or to discuss the changing nature of the Disney enterprise in terms of Walt's original conception of a controlled, self-contained, Disney world (or Disneyworld!). But life is long and space is brief.