Top 5: Things You Should Know About Roy O. Disney

Whether it’s his knack for staying out of the public eye or an overall lack of interest with the “other” brother, Roy Oliver Disney isn’t someone we hear much about. The older brother to Walt and the other owner of the Disney studios, the things we now enjoy that we credit Walt with creating couldn’t have been possible without Roy standing along side him. Walt, an entertainer and charismatic public figure, was never much of a businessman and left that job to Roy. Beyond that, who is Roy? What should we know about him? Here are my top 5 things you should know about Roy O. Disney.

walt and roy disney

#5-He made the move to California before Walt. Long before Walt’s move from Kansas City to Los Angeles, Roy moved away from his cruel and punishing father to live with his uncle and be a banker in Los Angeles. This gave Walt the capability to move his failing film business to Hollywood and try his luck there. Without Roy’s established base on the West Coast, we may have never known what would have happened to that Missouri boy that made animated pictures with his friends.

#4-Roy the Negotiator. That’s what you could probably best describe him as. During the studio’s early years, Roy was constantly in negotiations with the Bank of America to lend more money to finance projects such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He would later negotiate with sponsors to fund Disneyland. ABC and several others would bring Walt’s park to life but Roy was the one that really kept those deals strong and made sure that both sides kept their part of the bargain.

roy 4

#3-Brothers do fight. Nothing was more true than at the Disney studios. Roy allowed Walt to do the things he wanted but as Walt demanded more of his brother in terms of money or business deals, the two became fractured. They would always make up as brothers do but many animators can recall times when Walt and Roy wouldn’t speak for weeks on end. Instead they would relay messages through animators or through notes.

#2-Roy’s Personal life just that…Personal. He was married to Edna Francis in 1925 and they stayed married until his death in December of 1971. They were never seen out at premiers or as a couple due to Roy’s desire to stay away from cameras. However, Roy’s only son Roy E. Disney later became a figure of the Walt Disney company and would go on to do many interviews to talk about his father and uncle. Without Roy E. we may know even less about his dad.

sharing the magic

Roy opened Walt Disney World. Walt was originally naming his project “Disney World” but after his passing in 1966, Roy took over the project, delaying his retirement. Roy renamed the project “Walt Disney World” in honor of his younger brother and would even open the park with a dedication speech that honored his brother and everyone that worked hard on the project. It was the only time Roy gave a speech and it would be his last. He retired just after the park opened in October or 1971 but died of a cereberal hemorrhage in December of that year. In honor of Roy himself, a stature similar to the “Partners” statue was dedicated to him in 1999 at the Magic Kingdom. The statue titled “Sharing the Magic” has himself and Minnie Mouse sitting on a park bench almost as if he was looking upon all of the people entering the Magic Kingdom and grinning knowing he finished the dream his brother set out to accomplish.

Josh Taylor


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Modern Mouse Radio is a multimedia Disney fan site run by Josh Taylor and put together by a crew of amazing individuals. Check us out. You won't be disappointed.

Posted on July 18, 2014, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Nice Article. I always enjoy reading about the men behind the Magic.

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