Disney, Roy O.
by Jason Schultz
(1893-1971) Older brother of Walt Disney, who founded the Disney company in partnership with Walt in 1923. Born June 24, 1893; died December 20, 1971. Served as president of Walt Disney Productions from 1954 to 1968 and chairman of the board from 1964 until 1971. Roy was recuperating in Los Angeles from tuberculosis in 1923 when Walt persuaded him to join in the new venture making animated cartoons. Roy was the financial genius of the two brothers; Walt was the creative genius, and the two of them made a great pair. Modest and unassuming, Roy generally stayed in the background, finding the money for Walt's projects. It was Roy who managed the growth of licensing Disney consumer products. Roy was instrumental in deciding to break with outside distributors and form Buena Vista Distribution Company in 1953. But it was only after Walt's death in 1966 that Roy took a major public leadership position in the company and supervised the building of Walt Disney World. Through his financial acumen, that $400 million project opened in 1971 with the company having no outstanding debt. Roy was at Walt Disney World for the grand opening in October, and died two months later. In 1976, a new office building at the Disney Studio was named the Roy O. Disney Building in honor of the company's co-founder.