Roy O. Disney guided the business side of the Disney company and left his brother, Walt, free to produce the fantasies that charmed the world.
As chairman of the board and chief executive of Walt Disney Productions, Roy Disney once said, "My job is to help Walt do the things he wants to do."
Together, they built a multimillion-dollar entertainment empire. It all started in a small Hollywood studio in 1923 with Walt Disney's animated mouse and $790. (Roy Disney put in $250, Walt Disney $40, and $500 was borrowed from an uncle.)
In 1970, the year before Roy Disney's death, the brothers' worldwide corporation had $176 million in sales — producing cartoons, television shows and movies, records and music as well as operating Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
When his brother died in 1966, Roy Disney personally took charge of the financing and construction of Walt Disney World.
Roy Disney was born in Chicago in 1893. He started out delivering newspapers — his first taste of business — and went on to become a bank clerk in Kansas City, Mo., for eight years.
During World War I, he served in the Navy as a petty officer on a cargo ship in the Atlantic. His health was affected by the sea life, and he subsequently spent three years recuperating in Arizona.
He was living in California by the time his brother moved his small animation business from Kansas City to Hollywood, and the two scraped together the few dollars to begin producing animated shorts.
In a small building behind a Hollywood real estate office, Walt Disney worked at the drawing board while Roy Disney was cameraman and bookkeeper.
By 1929, with Roy Disney taking over distribution and finances, the Disney brothers were able to buy their own studio in the Hyperion section of Hollywood.
Then came the full-length cartoon feature "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937, which rocketed Walt Disney Productions to the top of the animated field. In January 1940, the Disneys completed their Burbank studios.
After the opening of Disneyland in July 1955, the company diversified into a wide spectrum of recreational and entertainment enterprises.