When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis began his attacks against the Walt Disney Company last month — over its opposition to his so-called “Don’t Say Gay” laws — the Disney family did what it has done for many years: Mostly stayed silent.
“Basically, the entire family may be very conservative and so they keep to themselves,” writer and Disney family historian Jim Korkis told The Post. “They’ve all the time been extremely private.”
But recently, a few of the more progressive members of the clan — which is just not close-knit — are rocking the boat.
“The family is just not unified by any means,” said Korkis.
Probably the most outspoken is Abigail Disney, 62. She is certainly one of the granddaughters of the corporate’s co-founder Roy O. Disney. She has publicly railed against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill — which was signed into law March 28 and prohibits teachers from discussing sexual orientation with students between kindergarten and third grade.
Prior to now, the documentary filmmaker has slammed her family’s company for poor treatment of its amusement park employees and even labeled her great-uncle Walt Disney a misogynist, a racist and an anti-Semite.
Walt Disney’s brood reportedly didn’t have much to do with the kids of his brother Roy. The clan is now said to be “not unified.”Getty Images
“She is a fiery advocate, and the wildcard of the family,” said Korkis. He added that the Disney family now not has any control over the publicly traded company — price greater than $67 billion and employing greater than 220,000 people, in response to its 2021 annual report — and that it’s unclear how much they own in shares.
In any case, three generations of Disney fortunes — from family trusts, foundations and stock holdings — are still tied to the brand, headquartered in Burbank, Calif.
“A few of the members of the family have worked regular jobs at the corporate, but due to their stock portfolios they do what they need,” Korkis said.
Most members of the family have tried to maintain a low profile over time: quietly working on philanthropic pursuits similar to the the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and Abigail Disney’s Daphne Foundation, which has doled out greater than $600,000 to minority empowerment and anti-violence groups in Recent York City, in response to its latest federal tax filing.
Walt Disney reportedly didn’t want his family involved within the business, which is now price greater than $67B.Getty Images
Walt Disney never wanted his family involved within the business, which was all about selling escapism and fantasy, Korkis said: “The happiest place on earth.”
When Walt took Billy Graham on a tour of Disneyland, the evangelist commented that the theme park offered “an incredible fantasy,” said Korkis. Walt replied: “That is the fact. Everyone of all ages, races, religions getting along together and being glad.”
However the recent actions by the Florida governor — who pushed Florida legislators last week to finish the conglomerate’s special self-governing status, which could cost the corporate hundreds of thousands of dollars a yr in fees and taxes — against the Disney brand have turned an unwelcome highlight on the descendants of Roy and Walt Disney.
Now, Abigail’s older brother, Roy P. Disney, 65, has also lined up behind his sister to blast the Florida governor.
Abigail Disney is probably the most outspoken member of the family, criticizing the Disney theme parks’ worker wages, amongst other matters.AFP via Getty Images
Earlier this month, Roy P., a California-based investor and keen sailor, publicly revealed that his stepchild, Charlee Corra, is trans. He added that he and his wife Sheri are “heartbroken” over the DeSantis laws.
“Equality matters deeply to us, especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community,” Roy P. wrote in an announcement. He pledged $500,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group that he said he has supported for greater than 20 years. He also gave $5,600 in donations to the Republican National Committee in 2020, in response to public records.
“Today I’m busting with pride at what my brother and his wife have done,” tweeted Abigail on April 8. “So proud so proud so proud!!!”
Roy P. Disney and his three siblings are said to not be close to one another or their cousins.Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Despite the effusive praise, Abigail, Roy P. and their brother Timothy and sister Susan Lord usually are not very close — to one another or to other members of the Disney clan, Korkis said.
The 4 children of company executive Roy E. Disney grew up sailing to Catalina Island on weekends with their parents and spending a fantastic deal of their free time with their father while he worked at Disney’s Burbank studios.
Disney members of the family, including Walt’s 10 grandchildren from his daughters Diane and Sharon, would assemble for special events on the Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, Calif., however the two branches of the family didn’t have much to do with one another growing up, said Korkis.
“I even have two sisters and a brother,” Roy P. told an interviewer in 2010. “We’re each a yr apart and I’m the oldest. We did every thing together. We shared rooms early on. All of us went to the identical school. We had a reasonably large backyard and each afternoon after school we played for hours in it … My brothers and sisters aren’t so close anymore as all of us have our own families now and just about lead our own lives.”
Roy P. Disney recently announced that his stepchild Charlee Corra is trans and that he was giving $500,000 to the Human Rights Campaign.Getty Images
Nevertheless it wasn’t all the time that way.
In 1923, the Walt Disney Company was founded as Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios in Los Angeles by Walt Disney and his older brother Roy O. Disney. The 2 were close from birth, whilst their family was torn apart by a legendary feud in 1907.
The rift occurred after their father, Elias, a draconian farmer, asked his older sons, Ray and Herbert, what they’d do with a surplus of money that the family had earned from a grain harvest at their Missouri farm. When certainly one of them said he would buy a pocket watch, “Elias erupted on the indulgence,” writes Neal Gabler in his 2007 book, “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.” After Elias insisted upon using the money to pay back his debt on the farm, Herbert and Ray took their share of the money and hopped a train to Chicago.
“The wound of their departure was so deep that almost 100 years later, members of the family were still reluctant to debate the incident,” Gabler writes.
Proposed laws by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could cost Disney hundreds of thousands of dollars a yr in fees and taxes.Getty Images
As the corporate grew and the 2 younger brothers became wealthy, they backed a bunch of Republican politicians — although Walt remained coy about throwing the corporate’s political weight around.
“An extended time ago I discovered that I knew nothing by any means in regards to the game of politics and since then I’ve preferred to maintain silent about the complete matter slightly than see my name attached to any statement that was not my very own,” Walt is quoted in Gabler’s book as saying.
Still, he and Roy O., eight years his senior, quietly supported Republican senator and former Hollywood actor George Murphy and US Sen. Barry Goldwater, in addition to former US President Ronald Reagan in his successful bid for California governor in 1966, amongst other Republicans. Walt died in 1966 and Roy in 1971.
“The brothers were very conservative, but in addition liberal in lots of facets,” said Korkis, adding that Walt was very fascinated about environmental issues and commonly promoted women. Within the late Nineteen Fifties, Walt hired Floyd Norman, the primary African American animator at Disney’s studios, who worked on “Sleeping Beauty” and “Jungle Book.”
A Texas judge has invited Disney World to maneuver to the Lone Star State to avoid the reach of the Florida government.Getty Images
Although the brothers were deeply conservative, they were all the time careful to publicly support each Democrats and Republicans — a technique that continued as the corporate grew to an enormous global concern that today owns ESPN, ABC, twenty first Century Fox and Marvel Studios, amongst other streaming, music and theater divisions. The strategy helped be certain that Disney received special self-governing status in Florida, allowing them to construct roads, levy taxes and control utilities on land where they built their 25,000 acre Walt Disney World amusement park outside Orlando.
“Mickey Mouse is just not a Republican or a Democrat,” said Joe Shapiro, who headed up Disney’s political lobbying, in an interview with CNN in 1998. “When you take a powerful position either way, you’re looking at offending roughly half of the people.”
Within the last election cycle, the Walt Disney Company doled out greater than $20 million to politicians, with the majority of its largesse — $10,500,000 — going to America First Motion, a brilliant PAC tied to former President Donald Trump, in response to Open Secrets, a non-profit that traces money in politics. The corporate gave $1,245,868 to Joe Biden in the identical yr, records show.
“It’s quite a slap within the face that the Republicans have declared war on Disney,” said Korkis.
This week, a Texas judge invited Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek to relocate the Disney World park to the Lone Star State.
Walt Disney desired to keep politics out of Disney World, often called the “Happiest Place on Earth.”Getty Images
Roy E. Disney, the son of Roy O. and father of Abigail and her siblings, was the last Disney member of the family to occupy an executive role at the corporate, Korkis said. In 2006, three years before his death, he had a net price of greater than $1.2 billion, in response to Forbes.
Sharon Lund, Walt’s adopted daughter, had also occupied a seat on the corporate’s board before her death from breast cancer in 1993. The trusts she left to her three children, Bradford, Michelle and Victoria Lund, were price greater than $400 million — and sparked some of the bitter public rows within the family’s history.
Under the terms of her will, the kids were to receive regular distributions, on the ages of 35, 40 and 45, from the combined trusts, in response to the Hollywood Reporter. Each payment was estimated at between $20 million and $30 million.
But there was a caveat that trustees could withhold distributions within the event that the kids didn’t reveal “maturity and financial ability to administer and utilize such funds in a prudent and responsible manner,” in response to court papers
That caveat has resulted in a protracted battles in Los Angeles County Superior Court, with Bradford Lund, now 51 and living in Arizona, claiming that he has yet to receive his a part of what now amounts to a $200 million inheritance, since the trustees have claimed he’s mentally incompetent, court papers say.
Bradford Lund, a grandson of Walt Disney, is in a legal battle over his portion of a $200 million inheritance.Brad Disney Lund/Twitter
“Do I need to present $200 million, effectively, to someone who may suffer, on some level, from Down syndrome? The reply isn’t any,” said Judge David Cowan, in response to court papers. Lund has denied having the condition and claimed that a DNA test produced in a previous court hearing proves it. He also said he’s able to managing his funds.
“For over a decade, Bradford Lund — the grandson of Walt Disney — has languished in perhaps the Unhappiest Place on Earth: probate court. Embroiled in a long-running dispute with members of the family and trustees, Lund has yet to say a fortune estimated to be price $200 million,” in response to court papers.
Last yr, Lund lost an appeal in his battle with Cowan. Lund claimed that Cowan had violated his due process rights when he rejected a settlement that Lund’s family and trustees had reached, and that Cowan appointed a guardian and not using a hearing even after a judge in Arizona had found that Lund was “not incapacitated.” Lund later amended his grievance to incorporate a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act over Cowan’s comments in a 2019 settlement hearing.
Lund can also be fighting to carry on to the 110-acre family ranch in Wyoming and has offered to purchase out his sister’s share of the property. When asked last yr by a neighborhood news reporter what he would do with the property, Lund replied that he would really like to go fishing, snowmobiling and horseback riding.
“Just about just keep the legacy happening inside the family,” he said.