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Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an EntertainmentEmpire [Hardcover]

Bob Thomas
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 15 1998

One night, at a Los Angeles dinner gala, Walt Disney gave a rare public statement about his older brother, Roy: " We started the business here in 1923, and if it hadn`t been for my big brother, I swear I`d`ve been in jail several times for checks bouncing. I never knew what was in the bank. He kept me on the straight and narrow. " Although Walt wasn`t quite that ignorant of the numbers, it`s true that Roy handled most of the finances for the Disney empire. It was Roy who kept the studio running in the early years, Roy who put together the financing deals for Disneyland, Roy who oversaw the completion of Walt Disney World in Florida after his brother`s death in 1966.Building a Company provides plenty of anecdotal details about the Disney entertainment empire`s rise to power. Don`t look for juicy scandal, though: Bob Thomas`s fully authorized (and, ultimately, Disney-financed) biography steers clear of any controversies, such as Disney`s attempts to get out of a contract with ABC in the late `50s, before they can cause a blight on the success story. Useful primarily to those interested in the details of business and entertainment history.


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From Amazon

One night, at a Los Angeles dinner gala, Walt Disney gave a rare public statement about his older brother, Roy: "We started the business here in 1923, and if it hadn't been for my big brother, I swear I'd've been in jail several times for checks bouncing. I never knew what was in the bank. He kept me on the straight and narrow."

Although Walt wasn't quite that ignorant of the numbers, it's true that Roy handled most of the finances for the Disney empire. It was Roy who kept the studio running in the early years, Roy who put together the financing deals for Disneyland, Roy who oversaw the completion of Walt Disney World in Florida after his brother's death in 1966.

Building a Company provides plenty of anecdotal details about the Disney entertainment empire's rise to power. Don't look for juicy scandal, though: Bob Thomas's fully authorized (and, ultimately, Disney-financed) biography steers clear of any controversies, such as Disney's attempts to get out of a contract with ABC in the late '50s, before they can cause a blight on the success story. Useful primarily to those interested in the details of business and entertainment history.

From Publishers Weekly

Roy Disney was born in 1893, a full eight years before his brother Walt. Despite the age gap, the brothers were from the beginning almost inseparable. Roy joined the Navy during WWI, but following his discharge discovered he had tuberculosis. His search for a suitable climate for recovery brought him to California, where he was soon joined by Walt, who had already set up his first cartoon film company, Laugh-O-Gram. With Walt supplying the vision, Roy was brought onboard to handle the finances. Together they established the Walt Disney Company; by himself, Walt came up with a signature character named Mortimer Mouse, who made his debut as Mickey in the film Plane Crazy. Once he reappeared in his first talkie, Steamboat Willie, an American cartoon icon was born. Thomas (Walt Disney: An American Original) depicts the business acumen of Roy in such matters as licensing, the forming of the original Mickey Mouse Clubs and the retention of TV rights of Disney products as early as the 1930s. Thomas covers as well Roy's part in the company's going public; its financial restructuring after WWII; the production of feature films like Fantasia; and the creation of Disneyland, leading to the Florida land-buy necessary for DisneyWorld, which opened just before Roy's death in 1971. This is a highly entertaining book that will interest a business readership in addition to fans of Disney. 16 pages of b&w photos, not seen by PW. (July) FYI: Hyperion, a Disney company, appears to have taken its name from the first location of the Walt Disney Studios, 2719 Hyperion Avenue in downtown L.A.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars brotherly love May 3 2001
Format:Paperback
This is a story about the half of the Disney empire that most people are not familiar with, Walt's brother Roy Disney. And it is about Walt the creative dynamo as well, in fact sharing more details about Walt's personal life than most biographies devoted soley to him. But don't get me wrong it is a book about Roy most of all. These 2 brothers were very close and like all family disagreed in business at times, but they were fiercely loyal to each other always. Each understood the others gifts and talents and they shared the load like no other team ever has. Roy was the administrative half of Disney Studio's and Walt was in charge of the Production half. You really get a feel for what the studio set up was like in this book. It includes never before published photos and actual letters of correspondace from Roy that is very touching. Roy was as unselfish a man that has ever been known, and like Walt was not dazzled by money other than its usefulness in business. He had simple tastes and was first and foremost a family man. You really get a feel for their times in this book and I highly reccommend it, whether you are interested in Disney, animation,televison production, theme park development, the business and administrative side of a studio, or you just appreciate a good biography of a special person. They broke the mold with Roy Disney.
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By R. Mohr
Format:Paperback
I found this book to be an easy and very enjoyable read. Roy Disney is often overlooked when people are thinking about Walt Disney and the Disney Company. However, as this book shows, he was as important to the Disney Company as Walt. Walt was the creative driving force and Roy was the guy that kept the company solvent and made it possible for Walt's innovations to become realities.
Bob Thomas included more history on the Disney family in the book than he did in his biography of Walt. I really appreciated the inclusion of letters that Roy wrote to family and friends through the years. I think that reading those letters helped to give me a better feel for what Roy must have been like.
Several times in the book I wondered if I was reading Roy's or Walt's biography because Walt was discussed so often and stories about Walt were told in this book. However, I think that given the unique relationship these brothers had, I doubt that a complete biography of either of these men could be written without stories about the other.
I recommend this book to anyone that is interested in the Disney Company and it's history. It is also a good book for those that want to know about the businessman Disney brother as well and those wanting to have a better understanding of Walt.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful! Jan. 29 2002
Format:Paperback
Bob Thomas presents a fascinating history of the Disney entertainment empire, with a special focus on Roy Disney's role in the company's growth. While Walt Disney was the creative genius (although he never drew a single picture of Mickey Mouse), Roy Disney provided the solid financial foundation, got the loans and made the deals that made Disney profitable. Thomas mixes the Disney brothers' personal history with an overview of the Disney Company's creative and financial expansion, as they balanced creativity with practical business fundamentals. This personal and corporate saga illustrates the value of a company's commitment to both a central driving purpose and core values. We [...] recommend this lively, engaging, entertaining read. Just one note: The Book's publisher, like so many other entities in the entertainment world, is a Disney subsidiary.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So Good, So In Depth, I'm Writing A Movie..... June 14 2001
Format:Paperback
Bob Thomas has done it again. There are so many GOOD books on the life of Walt Disney (My Hero), and we have been able to learn through the years, about him, but, we have lacked the knowledge of his older brother. Now, Bob Thomas brings it to our attention, in an attention grabbing way. The look at Roy O. Disneys life, through the eyes of the vast world, that is Diseny. I think it's time, Roy earn credit, that he held the company together, fiscally, through some very tough times. It was a two man show, and Thomas shows that Roy had the help and support of his little visionary brother, Walt. It shows that Walt really did appreciate all his pesky older brother told him! So good, that I'm developing a mini-movie on it! READ THIS BOOK!
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