We at Animation Fascination wish to pay our respects to Diane Disney Miller, the eldest daughter of Walt Disney who passed away on November 19, 2013 at age 79. Many beautiful tributes have been written about Diane over the past few days. We hope you’ll take the time to search them out and learn more about this remarkable woman.
From an animation perspective, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Diane. She worked tirelessly all of her adult life to protect the legacy and reputation of her father and was able to accomplish some amazing things.
Shortly after Bob Iger was named CEO of The Walt Disney Company, he made a deal with Universal to return the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit back to Disney. Diane said in a statement:
”When Bob was named CEO, he told me he wanted to bring Oswald back to Disney, and I appreciate that he is a man of his word.”
A crowning achievement of her life was the opening of the wonderful Walt Disney Family Museum. Located in the Presidio in San Francisco, the museum is an amazing, personal tribute to Walt Disney the man and a must-see for any Disney fan. About Diane’s work on the museum, Amid Amidi from Cartoon Brew beautifully stated:
“Diane was deeply concerned about what she perceived as misrepresentations of her father by the current Disney corporate regime. She worked harder than anyone else to preserve the legacy of Walt Disney, the man, and her master stroke was leading the creation of the Walt Disney Family Museum, which opened in San Francisco in 2009. The museum serves as an exemplary tribute to animation’s most important historical figure and confronts head-on the countless misguided portrayals of the man. It also ensures that Walt Disney’s legacy will be secure for years to come.”
As a poignant coincidence, Diane’s last filmed interview was for some special features that will be included on the upcoming Diamond Edition Blu-ray of The Jungle Book, which also happens to be the last animated motion picture her father worked on before his death in 1966. Diane took part in the interviews along with Richard Sherman, who with his brother Robert Sherman were the longtime staff songwriters at the Disney Studios, and Floyd Norman, animator extraordinaire and avid blogger and social media contributor. Floyd wrote about the experience on his blog:
“I’d recommend you buy this copy of ‘The Jungle Book’ if only to view this wonderful segment of Diane Disney Miller and Richard Sherman speaking about the movie and what happened behind the scenes. It’s a wonderful conversation, and these two amazing people share their insights on the Old Maestro, Walt Disney. Of course, for Robert and Richard Sherman, Walt was the boss. For Diane, he was Dad.”
Our condolences are with Diane’s family. While funeral services will be private, the Walt Disney Family Museum has set up a memorial fund in Diane’s name which will assist with the museum’s education efforts, exhibitions, and programs. More information can be found at the Walt Disney Family Museum website.