Roy E. Disney
Net Worth: $740 million
Source of Wealth: Stock, investments
Residence: Los Angeles
Roy E. Disney was a company kid, attending screenings of animated movies with his Uncle Walt and later going to work as an editor, producer and writer at the old man’s studio.
But he wasn’t too popular as a young man on the Walt Disney Co. lot; shy and uncommunicative, he quickly became known among co-workers as “Walt’s idiot nephew.” Well, Walt’s idiot nephew went on to engineer a management coup at the flailing studio in the mid-1980s that brought Michael Eisner and Frank Wells to the company, beginning a series of changes that would eventually build Disney into the biggest entertainment company in the world (a title it lost when Time Warner Inc. merged with Turner Broadcasting System last year). He also helped make Disney the dominant producer of animated feature films by taking control of the animation division after Eisner’s arrival a role he still retains.
More recently, he reportedly played a significant role in the decision not to make Jeffrey Katzenberg president of the company, touching off Katzenberg’s resignation and subsequent $250 million lawsuit. And his refusal to give ground to Michael Ovitz for control of the animation division may have helped lead to the departure of that ex-Disney president.
Roy Disney could have gotten plenty rich just living off the stock in his uncle’s company, but it was his investment activities with Shamrock Holdings Inc. that propelled him into the ranks of the country’s richest men. Shamrock, formed by Disney and former attorney Stanley Gold, has made a fortune through savvy investments in real estate, growth companies and other assets.
These days, not too many people are calling Roy Disney an idiot.