Thursday, December 17, 2009
the passing of roy disney
I learned last night that Roy E. Disney passed away after fighting stomach cancer. He was 79. Among the many tributes, deservedly so (and there are many around the web), perhaps one of the words I have seen most associated with him is determination. He was determined to rescue the animation department in the 1980s from oblivion, determined to protect his father and uncle's legacy, determined to preserve the history of Disney, and determined to make sure it had the right leadership.
He grew up on the Disney Burbank lot, and it seemed he was connected at the hip with the Disney studio from the beginning. He went on to earn his stripes and rightfully earn his place in the company. He worked on the True-Life Adventures series, episodes of Wonderful World of Disney and eventually took on the task of breathing new life into the animation department which seemed on shaky ground in the 1980s.
I remember going into the theater with a girlfriend to see The Little Mermaid in 1989, and even though I was an animation buff even then, I thought Disney was past its prime. I figured I could stand an hour and half of crappy animation just to make my girl happy. Then the opening ocean sequence started and I was amazed at what they had done- surely this was just the opening - the whole film couldn't possibly carry on this level of animation depth and skill and the storytelling and music would be subpar for sure. I was dead wrong. It was a modern day resurgence - and I was in the front row to witness it up on the big screen for myself. Then I saw it continue several years later when I took my then fiancé (now Mrs. Loophole herself) to one of our first movies- Aladdin. And I saw it again, when we went to see The Lion King while she was pregnant with our first born. Few companies are lucky to get a "golden age" - even fewer are lucky to get two. Thanks Roy- you will be missed.
Tributes can be found at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings, Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy, Cartoon Brew, D23, Cinematical and of course you can probably find many, many more. Also, Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood has an appreciation and thoughtful article on Roy's story in revitalizing and fighting for the Disney legacy.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.