BUILDING A COMPANY by Bob Thomas

BUILDING A COMPANY

Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An unrevealing, workmanlike biography of Walt Disney’s older brother, Roy, the financial brains behind Disney’s success. With only a high school diploma and a handful of years as a bank teller, Roy Disney helped transform Disney from a storefront operation into one of America’s preeminent corporations. While Walt was the visionary and the driving creative force (he conceived of everything from feature-length animated films to Disneyland), Roy was responsible for finding the money to pay for it all. It was Roy who had to attend to the bottom line that his brother so scorned, who had to negotiate all the complex deals and loans, who had to pursue the legions of copyright violators and manage the far-flung sales force. His genial, plainspoken midwestern demeanor camouflaged a tough, canny deal-maker and a keen mind for detail. It was Roy, for example, who as far back as the 1930s insisted on holding onto television rights. Considering their differing temperaments and responsibilities, it isn—t surprising that the brothers did not always see eye to eye. The studio tended to divide into Walt’s “boys” and Roy’s “boys”; there were periods when the brothers quarreled bitterly and communicated only in memos. But they always patched up their differences, and after Walt’s death, Roy postponed his retirement to fulfill his brother’s vision for CalArts and Walt Disney World. Published by Hyperion, a division of Disney, this authorized account has the (inevitably?) sanitized air of a self-serving corporate history about it. Thomas (Clown Prince of Hollywood, 1990, etc.) never manages to get a real feel for his subject and, perhaps because he wrote a biography of Walt, tends to let him dominate throughout. The story’s moral: Genius is seldom solitary and is usually in need of money. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 15th, 1998
ISBN: 0-7868-6200-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998




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