Today I wanted to write about someone behind the scenes who really helped shape the Disney Corporation. We all look at Walt and his visions and dreams, Mickey as the face of the company but there is someone else who was a huge part of the success of the company. Someone who gets little mention, but honestly deserves more. That man was Roy Oliver Disney and he was a older brother of Walt and also the co-founder of The Walt Disney Company.
Roy was born on June 24, 1893. He served in the Navy from 1917-1919. He was discharged from Navy after suffering a injury. After the Navy Roy became a banker in Los Angeles. Walt would join his older brother in 1923 and move to Hollywood and together they founded the Disney Brothers Studio. In 1925 Roy would marry Edna Francis and they were together until his passing. In 1928 Walt and Roy had their homes built side by side on Lyric Avenue. Roy and Edna would have one child, Roy E. Disney, who was born on January 10, 1930.
Walt was the creative mind between the brothers but Roy was the one that made sure the studio was financially stable. While they had found the studio together Walt would eventually buy out most of Roy’s share but Roy was still the companies first CEO in 1929, although the official title wasn’t given till 1968. Roy also shared the role of Chairman of the Board with Walt beginning in 1945. During the production phases of Snow White, it was Roy that kept going to Bank of America to acquire the funding needed for the film. Roy had tried to talk Walt out of doing the full length cartoon but he believed in his brothers dream as he saw it coming to life. He did whatever was needed to get the film finished. This was the first of so many Disney blockbuster films.
The films were just the start but the greatest accomplishment was yet to come. Walt opened Disneyland and then started his plans for Disney World. Unfortunately Walt passed before the Florida Project was finished. Roy came to visit his brother in the hospital the day before his passing and Walt using the ceiling tiles as a grid explained his whole dream for Florida to Roy. Roy was always so supportive of Walt and his dream. After Walt’s passing his foot was sticking out from under the blanket and the older brother started to rub his brothers foot and said “Well kid, it looks like the end of the road”. Roy insisted on seeing the Florida project finished. He also insisted on naming the project to Walt Disney World in honor of his brother and his legacy. Once the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, Roy retired and then passed just 2 months later.
Not to take a thing away from Walt Disney, he was an amazing man no doubt. His mind was like no other ever and we all love the Disney life because of him. I just wanted to recognize the man who helped and made sure Walt’s dreams became a reality. In the parks you will see the “Partner’s Statue” which is Walt and Mickey. There is another memorial statue in the Magic Kingdom. The “Sharing the Magic” statue which shows Roy and Minnie Mouse sitting on a bench together. Roy and Minnie were the partners to Walt and Mickey. This is a wonderful tribute to the ones behind the “Partners”. Next time you are at the Magic Kingdom make sure to locate the bench of Roy and Minnie in Town Square and remember that Roy was a major part of the Magic.