Ron Miller, the USC football star who met his future wife Walt Disney’s daughter Diane on a blind date and later became CEO and president of what is now the The Walt Disney Company, has died at age 85. The Walt Disney Co. confirmed Sunday that he passed away Napa Valley, CA.
After stints in the Army and with the Los Angeles Rams, Walt Disney hired his son-in-law to work at The Walt Disney Studios. He became Disney’s sixth employee at the original Disneyland, serving as second assistant on Old Yeller in 1957.
Miller rose up the ranks in film and TV production — his credits include producing The Rescuers, The Shaggy D.A., The Magical World of Disney (which won an Emmy), Herbie Goes Bananas and Tron — and eventually became president and CEO of Walt Disney Productions. He held the post from 1978-1984 until he was famously ousted in a leadership fight and replaced by Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Frank Wells.
During his time as CEO, Miller spearheaded the creation of Walt Disney Home Video, Touchstone Pictures and The Disney Channel.
“Everyone at The Walt Disney Company is deeply saddened by the passing of Ron Miller,” Disney’s current chairman and CEO Bob Iger said. “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 had been president of the board of directors at The Walt Disney Family Museum, which he established in 2009 in San Francisco, and he was also owner of Silverado Vineyards in Yountville, CA.