Diane Disney Miller

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Diane Disney Miller
Diane Disney in 1951
Diane Marie Disney

(1933-12-18)December 18, 1933
DiedNovember 19, 2013(2013-11-19) (aged 79)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Ron W. Miller
(m. 1954–2013)
(her death)
Parent(s)Walt Disney
Lillian Bounds Disney
RelativesSee Disney family

Diane Marie Disney-Miller (December 18, 1933 – November 19, 2013)[1] was the only biological child of Walt Disney and his wife Lillian Bounds Disney.[2] Diane co-founded the Walt Disney Family Museum alongside her family. She was president of the Board of Directors of the Walt Disney Family Foundation. The museum, which opened in 2009, was established to promote and inspire creativity and innovation and celebrate and study the life of Walt Disney.[3]

Disney Legacy[edit]

Disney family (1951)

Miller was a patron of the arts, as well as a lifelong classical music enthusiast and a generous philanthropist as well [4].

Miller published a series of eight pieces for the Saturday Evening Post in 1956 titled "My Dad, Walt Disney," co-written with Pete Martin.[5] In 1957 she published the book The Story of Walt Disney.[6] After her husband was removed from his executive position at Walt Disney Productions in 1984, Miller began to limit her involvement with the company.[7] In an interview with Diane in 2005, she recalled that she and Sharon lived a typical life, as both parents were very protective, caring and loving[8].

Miller was instrumental in pushing ahead with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The project was initiated with a $50 million gift from her mother in 1988, but was stalled for a time due to cost negotiations. She was an ardent supporter of architect Frank Gehry as its designer. The hall finally opened in 2004.

After devoting her earlier life to raising her seven children, Miller undertook an active advocacy to document the life and accomplishments of her father, who has been the subject of poorly researched biographies and inaccurate rumors. She was also concerned that his name had become more of a corporate identity than a reference to the man himself. In 2001, the Walt Disney Family Foundation released The Man Behind the Myth, a documentary film about Walt Disney's life featuring interviews with his colleagues, peers, and family. In 2009, Diane co-founded the Walt Disney Family Museum with her son Walter Elias Disney Miller, who is a movie producer, and Disney was also the President of the Board of Directors of the Walt Disney Family Foundation at the time of her death, which is a nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Walt Disney Family Museum, located in Presidio in San Francisco.[9]

In 2015, the inaugural Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award was created to honor the Museum's founder, to recognize those who have made an outstanding impact in the field of arts, education, community involvement, or technological advancements.[10]


Personal life[edit]

Born in Los Angeles on December 18, 1933, Diane Disney Miller attended Los Feliz Grammar School, before moving to Immaculate Heart High School (Los Angeles) for junior high school and high school.[14] She went on to study English at the University of Southern California.[15]

When she was 20 years old, Diane was introduced to 21-year-old University of Southern California student Ron Miller, a member of the USC Trojans football team, on a blind date after a University of California–USC game. They married in a small Episcopal church ceremony in Santa Barbara on May 9, 1954.[16] Together, Diane and Ron had several children whom they were survived by: Tamara Scheer, Patrick D., Jennifer Miller-Goff, Christopher D., Walter Elias, Joanna. Ronald then served in the Army and played professional football before Walt convinced him to work the Walt Disney Studios, and ascended from film directing and production to president and CEO of what is now The Walt Disney Company. In 1988, Lillian Disney, her mother, announced plans to contribute $50 million to the Los Angeles Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, which Diane would later come to support it throughout her life. More than 70 architectural firms submitted proposals to the head director, Frank Gehry. By 1996, the project was almost dead, but Diane persuaded Gehry to move forward with it, as it had run into problems with poor management and disagreements over the design, and Los Angeles County officials wanted to cancel it. It was supposed to be worth $10 million by 1997. Diane arranged for the Walt Disney Family Foundation to contribute about $25 million to keep Gehry in control, and the hall finally opened in 2003, at the cost of $247 million. Although Lillian Disney, never got a concert there (she died in 1997), Diane continued to support it. [17]

During that time, Diane traveled to Napa Valley with her mother, Lillian, to visit several wineries. The trip inspired Miller to start a vineyard, with the possibility of a winery. With the children grown, Ron left the company and the entertainment industry in 1984, and both he and Diane went on to develop the renowned Silverado Vineyards Winery in Napa, which became their home. In 1976, the family purchased a large property along the Silverado Trail in the Stags Leap District. They planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and started making wine in 1981.[18] They expanded the winery to only using estate-grown grapes, and Diane helped create a home and a family-like atmosphere rather than just a business.

The couple had seven children: Christopher (b. 1954), Joanna (b. 1956), Tamara (b. 1957), Jennifer (later Miller-Goff; b. 1960), Walter (b. 1961), Ronald (b. 1963), and Patrick (b. 1967).

Death and dedication[edit]

Diane Disney Miller died on November 19, 2013, at age 79 from medical complications that developed after a fall. She is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where her father's ashes are also located.[19][failed verification] She was survived by her seven children, thirteen grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

The film Saving Mr. Banks is dedicated to her memory; Disney Miller died shortly before it opened theatrically.[20]

Ron and Diane Disney Miller received a special thank you in Inside Out (2015).[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colker, David (November 19, 2013). "Diane Disney Miller dies at 79; philanthropist championed Disney Hall". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  2. ^ Staff, Variety (November 19, 2013). "Diane Disney Miller, Philanthropist and Daughter of Walt Disney, Dies at 79". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. Archived from the original on October 19, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  3. ^ admin (November 19, 2013). "The Walt Disney Family Museum Mourns the Loss of Diane Disney Miller". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  4. ^ admin (September 12, 2015). "Diane Disney Miller". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  5. ^ Disney, Walt; Jackson, Kathy Merlock (2006). Walt Disney: Conversations. UP of Mississippi. p. 25. ISBN 9781578067138.
  6. ^ Mosley, Leonard (1990). Disney's World. Scarborough House. p. 15. ISBN 9781589796560.
  7. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (November 20, 2013). "Diane Disney Miller, 79, Keeper of Walt's Flame, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  8. ^ Holzer, Leo. ""He was always grandpa" : The Miller children recall Walt Disney". jimhillmedia.com. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  9. ^ "Silverado Vineyards". www.silveradovineyards.com. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Brianne (August 15, 2017). "The Walt Disney Family Museum 2017 Gala Honoring John Lasseter". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  11. ^ "Disney Legend and Songwriter Richard Sherman to receive Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award at The Walt Disney Family Museum's First Fundraiser Gala" (PDF).
  12. ^ "The Walt Disney Family Museum Gala" (PDF).
  13. ^ Brianne (August 15, 2017). "The Walt Disney Family Museum 2017 Gala Honoring John Lasseter". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  14. ^ https://www.mouseplanet.com/10546/Remembering_Diane_Disney_Miller
  15. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (November 20, 2013). "Diane Disney Miller, 79, Keeper of Walt's Flame, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  16. ^ Brianne (May 8, 2017). "Ron and Diane Get Married". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  17. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (November 20, 2013). "Diane Disney Miller, 79, Keeper of Walt's Flame, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  18. ^ "Silverado Vineyards Cofounder Diane Disney Miller Dies | News | News & Features | Wine Spectator". WineSpectator.com. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  19. ^ "Diane Disney Miller on Neal Gabler", Retrieved on August 29, 2007
  20. ^ Jay Weston (December 9, 2013). "Tom Hanks IS Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks"!". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  21. ^ Disney/Pixar (June 19, 2015). Disney/Pixar Inside Out Cinestory Comic. Joe Books Ltd. ISBN 9781987955118.

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