Beyond just visiting the Parks, my husband and I are huge Disney history enthusiasts and enjoy getting the opportunity to read about the people who helped create the magic.
My husband got the opportunity to read “Remember Roy E. Disney” and I’m happy to share his personal review with you all! Enjoy!
Guest Post By David Spear
I’ve often believed that the best stories told are the ones that come directly from the source – those in the know who experienced it firsthand. We often retell stories that have been passed on verbally to us, and in doing so, ultimately change the DNA with every reincarnation. Most biographies are well-researched with the biographer conducting interviews and meticulously pouring over notes and texts. But their retelling of events still does not compare to hearing it from the original source. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed reading Remembering Roy so much.
This is not a biography in the traditional sense, but rather a series of stories and recollections about Roy E. Disney told directly by those who knew and worked with him. In a way, the reader learns much more about Roy as a person than if, say, Neal Gabler had taken the same approach as The Walt Disney Story: Triumph of the American Imagination.
In the foreword, Roy’s son, Roy Patrick Disney, sets the tone of the book, telling a story of a young Roy struck with a cold, listening to his Uncle Walt tell him a tale. It’s the story of a wooden boy. We’ve all heard the stories of Walt reenacting storyboards during animation sessions. But to be a young child and have Walt himself tell you the story must have been pure magic. It is only fitting that the rest of the book is told in the same fashion – dozens of personal stories about the man who is just as important to the Walt Disney Company as his uncle and father.
Many of the stories are Bossert’s personal tales of Roy, set with the backdrop of the Second Golden Age of Animation. The classic Disney movies beginning with The Little Mermaid would have never been made had Roy not intervened and saved the fledgling Animation Dept. after the failed The Black Cauldron. Not only did Roy save Disney Animation, but one could make the argument that Roy saved the art of animation itself. His continued philanthropic support of CalArts from day one has helped to produce the artists who now work for Pixar and DreamWorks Animation.
Those instrumental in the success of Disney Animation offer their own words on Roy throughout the book. Instead of Bossert summarizing these accounts, he lets them tell their story in their entirety. It is “all in the details” after all. These range from Roy voicing his unhappiness with Stitch (and ultimately changing the tone of the film) to the more personal such as Roy unexpectedly attending a wedding, even after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, to John Lasseter’s recounting of his trip to Roy’s Ireland estate.
Bossert divides the sections of the book into different topics of Roy’s life. Outside of the Company, Roy was an avid sailor. As the owner of the Pywacket, Roy partook in every aspect of sailing and performed just like one of the crew. Out on the ocean, “Roy was just one of the guys”. His other love was flying and there is a fair share of entertaining stories from aboard “Air Roy.”
We do get glimpses of Roy during some of the darker times at the Walt Disney Company. The near takeover in the early 1980s that led to Roy’s return with Michael Eisner in tow as well as his ouster 20 years later. You won’t find any juicy tidbits from behind the scenes politics – nor would you really want to. What is most evident through his career at Disney is his belief in people. Roy believed in teamwork as proven by his commitment to his sailing crew and firm stance that it’s the animators who should get the credit for Disney’s success.
Overall, this is a simple, easy read for any Disney fan and is a worthwhile addition to any collection. It’s a great testament to the man who overcame the shadow of his uncle and left his own legacy on the Walt Disney Company.