Roy Edward Disney, a nephew of Walt Disney who restored his uncle's legendary animation company, died after a battle with cancer Wednesday morning, according to The Los Angeles Times. Disney was 79.
Roy Edward, the son of Roy O. Disney, Walt's brother who ran the business side of the company, Disney spent the first 20 years of his career making nature films, including the Oscar-nominated short subject Mysteries of the Deep.
Following the death of his uncle in 1966 and his father in 1971, Disney was denied a larger role in the company and quit in 1977. He did, however, remain on the board of directors until 1984,when he quit the board, frustrated that the company had lost its toehold in the feature-film business.
Check out the photo gallery of celebrity deaths in 2009
When Michael Eisner took over as chief executive that same year, Disney advised the CEO on reviving the company's animation unit, which included investing millions in computer animation equipment. Within a few years, the Walt Disney Co. studio released a slew of critically acclaimed animated hits, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King.
"It was Roy who was the protector. It was Roy who was the godfather, the champion and believer in it," said Peter Schneider, the former president of Walt Disney Feature Animation. "Animation doesn't work without someone who believed, and Roy believed."
In 2005, current CEO Robert Iger offered Disney an office at the company's Burbank studios, a consultancy and the title "director emeritus."