2011 Ron Miller

Ron Miller began his storied 30-year career at Disney in 1954, when he briefly served as a liaison between WED Enterprises and Disneyland, which was then under construction.  He was drafted into the Army later that year, and served for two years before a brief career as a professional football player. But it wasn’t long before Walt Disney, Ron’s father-in-law, convinced Ron to work for the company. Walt sponsored him for membership in the Directors’ Guild, and Ron worked as a second assistant on Old Yeller. Ron also directed some of Walt’s introductions for various television programs. Ron shifted his focus to producing, and earned co-producer credits on such classics as That Darn Cat, Bon Voyage and Summer Magic, before earning his first full producer credit for Never a Dull Moment. He later produced such films as Pete’s Dragon, Escape to Witch Mountain and Freaky Friday. Ron became president of Walt Disney Productions in 1980, and then Chief Executive Officer in 1983. It was during this time that the company’s theme park operations expanded with the openings of Epcot and Tokyo Disneyland. Among his other notable achievements were the establishment of The Disney Channel  and Touchstone Pictures, the film division created to market more adult-oriented films; the first Touchstone release was Splash. Ron also set the stage for many future Disney successes. He produced the feature film Tron, which was the company’s first foray into digital animation. He also bought the rights and put into development Who Framed Roger Rabbit and funded the early short subjects of filmmaker Tim Burton. Ron left Disney in 1984, and he and his wife (Diane Disney Miller) and family run the Silverado Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley.

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