Disney fans and cast members are mourning the passing of Ron Miller — Walt Disney's son-in-law who ran the company in the early 1980s, before the arrival of Michael Eisner.
Miller, who was born in 1933, married Walt's daughter Diane in 1954, before a brief career playing for the Los Angeles Rams. After watching Miller get knocked out during a game, Walt offered Miller a full-time job with the studio, where he would spend the rest of his career.
"Everyone at The Walt Disney Company is deeply saddened by the passing of Ron Miller," Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a release from the company. "His life and legacy are inextricably linked with our Company and the Disney family because he was such a vital part of both, as our CEO and Walt’s son-in-law. 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."
Miller succeeded Card Walker as President of what was then known as Walt Disney Productions in 1977, then as CEO in 1983. During that time, Miller established Touchstone Picture and oversaw the launch of The Disney Channel. He also produced several Disney films during that period, including Tron, The Rescuers, and The Black Cauldron.
And during Miller's time as company president, Disney expanded its theme park division, opening Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in 1982 and Tokyo Disneyland in 1983.
Disney endured takeover attempts by corporate raiders during the early 1980s, which eventually led Roy E. Disney and other major shareholders to bring in Michael Eisner to replace Miller. After leaving Disney, Miller and his wife settled in Napa Valley where they worked as winemakers. Diane passed away in 2013.
Ron Miller most recently served as the president of the board of the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Miller passed away yesterday in Napa.Tweet
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