Roy Disney of entertainment empire dies

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Roy Disney, whose father and uncle founded the Disney entertainment kingdom, died Wednesday at the age of 79 after a year-long battle with stomach cancer, the Walt Disney Company said.

Disney played a key role in revitalizing The Walt Disney Company and Disney's animation legacy.

He was associated with the Walt Disney Company for 56 years, during around 20 of which - from 1984 to 2003 - he served as vice chairman of the board of directors and chairman of the Studio's Animation Department.

"As head of Disney Animation, Disney helped to guide the studio to a new golden age of animation with an unprecedented string of artistic and box office successes that included 'The Little Mermaid', 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Aladdin' and 'The Lion King'," the Walt Disney Company said in a statement.

Roy Edward Disney was born in Los Angeles on January 10, 1930. Seven years earlier, his father Roy and uncle Walt had co-founded the Disney entertainment business.

After attending Pomona College in California, Disney launched his entertainment industry career in 1952, working as an assistant film editor on the "Dragnet" television series.

He joined Walt Disney Studios in 1953 as an assistant film editor.

As a writer and production associate, he was nominated for Oscars for his work on "Mysteries of the Deep" in 1959, and in 2003 for his work as executive producer for "Destino", an animated short based on storyboards and original art by iconic artist Salvador Dali.

Disney was also a key player in a shareholder revolt at the Magic Kingdom against the leadership of Michael Eisner, whom Disney blamed for the Walt Disney Company's lackluster performance in recent years. Eisner stood down in 2005.

In addition to his work in television, animation and theater, Disney was a philanthropist and accomplished competitive sailor.

He is survived by his wife, Leslie, four children from a previous marriage and 16 grandchildren.

The family will hold a private funeral service, followed by cremation, and Disney's ashes will be scattered at sea.