Ron Miller, former Disney chief executive officer, and son-in-law of Walt Disney, passed away in California, US, on 9 February, aged 85.
As CEO of Disney from 1978 to 1984, Miller was responsible for pushing the Disney organisation to expand, creating Walt Disney Home Video, Touchstone Pictures and The Disney Channel. He was also a champion of technological advances, including computer animation, leading to innovative films such as Tron in 1982.
He met 20-year-old Diane Disney on a blind date while both were studying at the University of Southern California (USC) in 1954. Miller was 21 and a member of the USC football team. After university he served in the army and then played football for the Los Angeles Rams, before being recruited by Walt Disney to work at the studios in 1957. That year he was credited as second assistant on Old Yeller.
Miller, Diane and her mother Lillian Disney established Silverado Vineyards in 1981, near the small town of Yountville, California, and this became the couple’s permanent residence.
Latterly he had served on the Board of Directors of The Walt Disney Family Museum since it opened in 2009, and became president in 2013.
“Everyone at The Walt Disney Company is deeply saddened by the passing of Ron Miller,” said Bob Iger, Disney chair and CEO. “His life and legacy are inextricably linked with our company and the Disney family because he was such a vital part of both.
“Few people had Ron’s understanding of our history, or a deeper appreciation and respect for our Company, and he shared it generously with anyone who wanted to know more. I was fortunate to have known him, and even luckier to have called him a friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Diane Disney Miller died in 2013. The couple are survived by seven children, 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The Walt Disney Family Museum has established a memorial fund in honour of Ron Miller and Diane Disney Miller, with donations being used to support the museum’s ongoing education efforts.