Sunday, December 20, 2009

Roy Disney's death a bittersweet milestone

The NYT obit said that with Roy Disney, Walt's nephew, dead, there is nobody named Disney working at the Disney Co. In the Register's editorial we fudged that a tiny bit to say nobody in a leadership position, which is definitely true. That strikes me as something of a shame. There was a time when the company very much reflected Walt's personality, and while it has a personality now (if a corporate entity can be said to have a personality) I don't think it's Walt's.

Over the years the Register ed board has met with most of the Disney top leadership, but we never met with Roy. While it seems he was fairly easy to underestimate, he turned out to be quite formidable, leading a couple of shareholder revolts that got CEOs booted, and heading the animation division during its rebirth ("Little Mermaid, "Lion King," Aladdin," etc.).

I know Disney can do corny stuff and "Disneyfy" or dumb down somne classice stories. But you know, they've done educational stuff they didn't have to ("Living Desert" et. al.) and have had a nice American middlebrow impulse to want to improve the world with more high-toned stuff -- classical music and all. And Disneyland is still one of the best places ever to spend a day and a night, especially with kinds, but pretty nice without kids as well.

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