Roy O. Disney
Disney in 1965
Roy Oliver Disney

(1893-06-24)June 24, 1893
DiedDecember 20, 1971(1971-12-20) (aged 78)
Burial placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationEntertainment industry executive
Political partyRepublican
Edna Francis
(m. 1925)
ChildrenRoy E. Disney
Parent(s)Flora Call Disney
Elias Disney
RelativesSee Disney family
Military career
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1917–1919
Battles/warsWorld War I

Roy Oliver Disney (/ˈdɪzni/;[1] June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971)[2] was an American businessman who co-founded The Walt Disney Company with his younger brother Walt Disney. He also served as the company's first CEO and was the father of Roy E. Disney.


Early life

Disney was born to Irish-Canadian Elias Charles Disney and English-German-American Flora Call Disney in Chicago, Illinois. The family moved to Marceline, Missouri and to Kansas City in 1911. On July 1, 1911, Elias purchased a newspaper delivery route for The Kansas City Star. It extended from 27th Street to the 31st Street, and from Prospect Avenue to Indiana Avenue. Roy and his brother, Walt worked as newspaper delivery-boys.[3] The family delivered the morning newspaper, The Kansas City Times, to approximately 700 customers, and The Kansas City Star to more than 600. The number of customers served increased with time.[4]

Disney graduated from the Manual Training High School of Kansas City in 1912. He left the paper delivery route and worked on a farm in the summer. He was then employed as a bank clerk along with brother Raymond Arnold Disney at the First National Bank of Kansas City.[4]

Disney served in the United States Navy from 1917 to 1919.[4] Roy contracted tuberculosis and was therefore discharged from military duty. He forsook his banking career and hospital bed and in 1923,[5] brother Walt joined Roy in Hollywood and the two planned the start of Disney Brothers Studio. The brothers ordered kit houses from Los Angeles-based Pacific Ready Cut Homes and, in 1928, built their homes adjacently on Lyric Avenue in the Los Feliz neighborhood.[6]

Walt Disney Productions

While Walt led the creative side, Roy guided the business side and finances.[3] Together Roy and Walt founded Disney Studios as brothers, but Walt later bought out most of Roy's share in 1929[7] so, unlike Max and Dave Fleischer of rival Fleischer Studios, Roy was not a co-producer. However, Roy was an equal partner in all facets of the production company.

Disney became the company's first CEO in 1929, although the official title was not given to him until 1966. He also shared the role of chairman of the board with Walt from 1945 and succeeded Walt in the position of President around this time as well. He held the position until 1968 when he handed it to Donn Tatum. In 1960, Walt dropped the chairman title so he could focus more on the creative aspects of the company. Following Walt's death on December 15, 1966, from lung cancer, Roy postponed his retirement to oversee the construction of what was then known as Disney World.[5] For five years after Walt's death, Roy was able to open the resort with a cost of $400 million without having additional debt.[8] He later renamed it Walt Disney World as a tribute to his brother.

Personal life

Roy was married to Edna Francis from April 1925 until his death. Roy met Edna Francis in Kansas City, Missouri when she worked at The Kansas City Times along with close friend Meredith A. Boyington, and she introduced Meredith to Raymond Arnold Disney, who was an older brother to Roy O. Disney. Raymond and Meredith were married, and were lifetime close friends to Edna and Roy; they had two sons, Charles Elias Disney and Daniel H. Disney.[9] Roy and Edna's son Roy Edward Disney was born on January 10, 1930.[10] Roy Edward Disney later was vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company. Throughout his life, Roy Oliver Disney rejected the publicity and fame that came with being Walt's brother. Roy's nephew Charles Elias Disney chose to name his son Charles Roy Disney in Roy's honor.[11] Roy remained a member of the Freemasons for decades before he resigned his membership.[12]


Disney's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

After the opening of Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971, Roy finally retired but soon after he died from a stroke, at the age of 78, on December 20, 1971, five days after the fifth anniversary of his younger brother's death. He is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) next to his wife, Edna née Francis, in Los Angeles.[13]


Walt Disney World Railroad No. 4 Roy O. Disney

One of the Walt Disney World Railroad locomotives was named after Roy.[14] On June 6, 2002, his son Roy E. Disney rededicated this locomotive in his father's honor.[14] In September 2016, the locomotive took part in its centennial celebration hosted by the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society.[15][16]

One of the three Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad locomotives is also named after Roy, where each locomotive is named after a past Walt Disney Company president.[17]

The Roy O. Disney Concert Hall, the primary performance space for the Herb Alpert School of Music at the California Institute of the Arts (of which Disney was a benefactor), is named after him.

A statue of Roy seated on a park bench beside Minnie Mouse is located in the Town Square section of Main Street, U.S.A., at the Magic Kingdom theme park in Florida.[18] A duplicate is located outside the Team Disney building at Disney's corporate headquarters in Burbank, California. There is a third statue at the Tokyo Disneyland theme park. The Roy O. Disney Suite is located on the top floor of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

In 2014, Roy O. Disney was portrayed in the feature film Walt Before Mickey by Jon Heder.

See also


  1. ^ "Disney, Walt | Definition of Disney, Walt by Lexico". Lexico Dictionaries | English. Archived from the original on October 24, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  2. ^ Jones, Jack (December 21, 1971). "Roy O. Disney". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Roy O. Disney". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Barrier, Michael (2008). The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. Berkeley, Calif.: Univ. of California Press. pp. 18–20. ISBN 9780520256194. OCLC 254461789.
  5. ^ a b "Gentle Visionary: Roy O. Disney". The Walt Disney Family Museum. October 1, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  6. ^ Pollard-Terry, Gayle (July 16, 2006). "12,000 easy pieces". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  7. ^ Tewari, Lata (June 24, 2020). "The Success of Roy O. Disney & Walt Disney Company". Open Naukri. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  8. ^ DiCologero, Brittany (October 25, 2022). "Today in Disney History, 1971: Roy Disney's Disney World Dedication". Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  9. ^ Daniel (August 1, 2009). "Disney's Magic Makers: Edna Francis Disney". Archived from the original on April 1, 2012. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  10. ^ Chmielewski, Dawn C.; Bates, James (December 17, 2009). "Roy Edward Disney dies at 79; nephew of Walt helped revive animation". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 12, 2018. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  11. ^ Wickman, Gino; Winters, Mark C. (2015). Rocket Fuel The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business. New York: BenBella Books, Inc. ISBN 9781941631164. OCLC 904407202.
  12. ^ Thomas, Bob (1998). Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire. Disney Editions. p. 332. ISBN 978-0-7868-6200-9.
  13. ^ Wilson, Scott; Mank, Gregory W. (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons. Vol. 1 (3rd ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 9780786479924. OCLC 948561021.
  14. ^ a b Campbell, Michael (Summer 2002). "Roy E. Disney Rededicates Father's Engine" (PDF). Carolwood Chronicle. Carolwood Pacific Historical Society. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  15. ^ "Centennial Celebration Set for Roy O. Disney Steam Locomotive: September 15 to 18, 2016" (PDF). Carolwood Chronicle. No. 63. The Carolwood Society. Spring 2016. pp. 1–3. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 4, 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  16. ^ Broggie, Michael (Winter 2016). "View from the Cupola" (PDF). Carolwood Chronicle. No. 65. The Carolwood Society. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 20, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  17. ^ "All aboard the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad". September 6, 2016.
  18. ^ Eades, Mark (December 22, 2016). "Remembering Roy O. Disney, Walt Disney's brother, 45 years after his death". Orange County Register. Retrieved March 24, 2019.

Further reading

Business positions Preceded byFirst CEO CEO of The Walt Disney Company position created–1971 Succeeded byDonn Tatum Preceded byWalt Disney Disney President 1945–1968 Succeeded byDonn Tatum Preceded byposition vacant Disney Chairman 1964–1971 Succeeded byDonn Tatum