Roy Disney, nephew of Walt, dies

LOS ANGELES — Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney whose powerful behind-the-scenes influence on The Walt Disney Co. led to the departure of former chief Michael Eisner, has died. He was 79.

LOS ANGELES — Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney whose powerful behind-the-scenes influence on The Walt Disney Co. led to the departure of former chief Michael Eisner, has died. He was 79.

The company announced that Disney died Wednesday in Newport Beach, Calif., after a yearlong bout with stomach cancer.

Company president and chief executive Bob Iger said Disney was much more than a valued 56-year company veteran.

“Roy’s commitment to the art of animation was unparalleled and will always remain his personal legacy and one of his greatest contributions to Disney’s past, present and future,” Iger said in a statement.

Although he generally stayed out of the spotlight, Roy Disney didn’t hesitate to lead a successful campaign in 1984 to oust Walt Disney’s son-in-law after concluding he was leading the company in the wrong direction.

Nearly 20 years later, he launched another successful shareholders revolt, this time against Eisner, the man he’d helped bring in after the previous ouster.

Eisner and his wife issued a statement expressing their sympathies over Disney’s death.

Don Hahn, an executive producer at the Disney movie studio, credited Roy Disney with ushering in a new era after taking over the animation department in 1984. Together, they helped make such blockbusters as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.