Roy Oliver Disney was an American businessman, who co-founded Walt Disney Productions, along with his younger brother, Walter Elias Disney; the company is now known as The Walt Disney Company. A native of Illinois, Roy grew up delivering newspapers along with his brother for their father. After graduating high school, he left the newspaper-delivery business and held several jobs in the following few years, including at a farm and in a bank. In 1917, Roy enlisted in the US Navy but was discharged two years later when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. In 1923, the brothers set up the Disney Bros. Studio. While Walt served as the creative head of the company, Roy was in charge of the financial side of the business. In 1929, he became the first CEO (unofficially) of Disney. After Walt’s death in 1966, Roy decided to delay his retirement until the construction of the Walt Disney World was finished.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on June 24, 1893, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., Roy Disney was one of the five children of Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Disney and English-German-American Flora Call Disney.
He was the middle child, younger than his brothers Herbert Arthur and Raymond Arnold but older than sister Ruth Flora and Walt. The family first relocated to Marceline, Missouri, in 1896, and later to Kansas City in 1911.
Not long after moving to Kansas City, Elias bought a newspaper delivery route for The Kansas City Star. Both Roy and Walt worked there. After graduating from the Manual Training High School of Kansas City in 1912, he quit the family business and worked at a farm for the summer.
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After being employed at a farm for a summer, Roy Disney was hired by the First National Bank of Kansas City to work as a clerk. His older brother, Raymond, was also employed there. From 1917 to 1919, he served in the US Navy but received his discharge papers when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Roy returned to the civilian life and began working as a banker in Los Angeles. In 1923, Walt came to the city and the brothers subsequently established the Disney Bros. Studio. They also set up their homes beside each other’s on Lyric Avenue in the Los Feliz neighbourhood of Los Angeles.
Financial Head of Walt Disney Productions
While Walt oversaw the creative side of the company, Disney Bros. Studio, Roy O. Disney controlled the financial aspect of the business.
They set up Disney Studios together but Walt purchased most of Roy’s share in 1929. As a result, he and Walt were not co-producers like Max and Dave Fleischer of the rival Fleischer Studios. Despite this, his role was of an equal partner in all aspects of the company.
In 1929, Roy assumed the duties of the chief executive officer of the company but did not receive the title officially until 1968. He and Walt served as the co-chairs of the board from 1945. In 1960, Walt stepped down from his position in order to devote himself completely to the creative side of the business.
Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966, at the age of 65. Roy subsequently chose not to retire immediately so he could supervise the construction of a vacation resort and theme park. At the time, the project was known as Disney World but Roy later changed it to Walt Disney World in honour of his brother.
He served as the president of the company from December 1966 to 1968. In October 1971, Walt Disney World opened its gates for the first time. Roy retired from his position soon after.
Family & Personal Life
In 1925, Roy Disney exchanged wedding vows with Kansas-native Edna Francis. They had one son together, Roy Edward Disney (born January 10, 1930).
Unlike his brother, Roy preferred to maintain a distance from both publicity and fame. He did not let people take many photographs of him, and was an incredibly passive individual.
Death & Legacy
Roy Disney passed away on December 20, 1971, due to an intracranial haemorrhage. He was 78 years old at the time. Roy was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) in Los Angeles.
The Walt Disney Company, or Walt Disney, or simply Disney, has become the world’s largest independent media conglomerate in terms of revenue since Roy’s death. Walt Disney World has become the most visited vacation resort in the world. It serves as the flagship destination of Disney's worldwide corporate enterprise.
In the Walt Disney World, there is a locomotive named after him. He was posthumously awarded a Star (Motion Picture) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998.