Siblings have a special bond, I know I would do anything for my brothers and sisters. As I say this, I don’t know if I could mortgage my home and hand them the money for something like the first feature length animated film. That’s what Roy O. Disney did for his younger brother, Walt. The relationship between Roy and Walt was a special one, sometimes turbulent, but always genuine and respectful. The two seemed to complete each other, Walt had creativity and imagination, and Roy had financial prowess-separately they were phenomemal but together they were iconic.
Walt’s father, Elias, was a conservative midwesterner who didn’t support his son’s dream of becoming an artist. He wanted Walt to get a job at the local jelly plant, making $25 a week. Encouragement and support from his older brother, Roy, helped give Walt the confidence to pursue his dream. On October 16,1923 the two would start Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios, which became the Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. in 1929. Roy was content allowing Walt to shine in the spotlight, at times having the difficult task of reigning in his brother’s “bigger is better” spending habits. The two brothers worked side by side pioneering the animation industry, and introducing the world to theme parks as we know them today.
In 1957, at a Big Brothers event, Walt took a moment to talk about his big brother saying:
…I was fortunate. I had a big brother. And he’s still with me. And I still love him. I argue with him. Sometimes I think he’s the stubbornest so-in-so I ever met in my life. But I don’t know what the hell I would do without him…
Roy’s support and encouragement would continue even after Walt’s death. You see, after Walt passed away December 15, 1966, Roy postponed retirement to ensure Walt’s dream, Disney World, came to fruition. He insisted the name be changed to Walt Disney World, “so people will know this was Walt’s dream.” During the dedication ceremony for Walt Disney World, October 18, 1971 Roy said:
You should know that the dedication of our staff to Walt’s goals is tremendous. And, I know Walt would like what his creative team is doing…because these are the ideas and plans he began. Everything you will see here today is something Walt worked on and began in some way. And, today, the Walt Disney organization is dedicated to carrying out these wonderful plans in Walt Disney World.
Sadly, Roy Disney died of a stroke December 20, 1971, just a couple of months after his dedication speech.
Today as we celebrate Walt Disney World’s 40th birthday, lets remember it was made possible by a brother’s love and dedication… Thank you Walt and Roy for giving us The Happiest Place on Earth!!
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tollieschmidt/3603785334/