Setting the Record Straight on Roy O. Disney's Role

* Although the majority of your story on the Autry Museum's current exhibit, "Walt Disney's Wild West" (Valley Life!, May 19), was full of interesting and well-researched information, the unflattering and inaccurate comments expressed in regard to my father, Roy O. Disney, and his role in the inception of Disneyland called for an immediate response.

The fact that these statements are attributed to Leonard Mosley, the author of an error-filled 1985 biography, helps to explain the source of this confusion. Nevertheless, I wanted to provide the following clarification in an effort to help set the record straight.

It is widely regarded that the relationship between Walt and his older brother Roy was one of the most enduring, successful and productive in the history of Hollywood. Roy's financial and managerial expertise gave Walt the freedom to dream and create to his heart's content. On occasion, Roy served as a "devil's advocate" to help Walt sharpen his focus and work within the parameters of financial reality. When all was said and done, however, Roy was Walt's staunchest supporter and always found a way to make things work. While it may be true that Roy was concerned with the feasibility of a large-scale theme park, it was not in his nature to oppose Walt's passion and under no circumstances did he try to undermine the plan by approaching Walt's wife, Lilly.

Equally ludicrous is the notion that my father would try to take undue credit for the Disneyland project in the face of its success. Both privately and publicly, Roy was a modest, self-effacing man who preferred to let Walt appear in the spotlight and take his justly deserved bows.

With regard to ABC, Roy's plan to approach the upstart third network for financial support was beneficial to all parties and, by any standard, a masterful financial maneuver.

I hope that these insights and facts help to set the record straight with regard to my father's contributions to "Walt's Wild West." To characterize him as a naysayer who attempted to derail Disneyland is a complete falsehood that does not reflect his dedication and significant contribution to the landmark theme park.



Roy E. Disney is vice chairman of the board, the Walt Disney Co.

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