Ron Miller, Former Disney CEO and Walt’s Son-in-Law, Dies at 85

Miller served as CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1983 to 1984

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Ron Miller, who served as president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, died on Saturday at age 85 in Napa, California, the company confirmed.

Miller, an Army veteran and star athlete at USC who played for the Los Angeles Rams, came to the company by way of his wife, Diane Disney, the daughter of company founder Walt Disney.

He served as a producer on 1960s and ’70s films like “Son of Flubber,” “That Darn Cat!” “Pete’s Dragon” and “Escape to Witch Mountain” — and helped drive the innovative computer animation in the 1982 sci-fi thriller “Tron.”

In 1978, he was named president of Walt Disney Productions and then promoted to CEO in 1983. He led the creation of Walt Disney Home Video, Touchstone Pictures and The Disney Channel but was ousted the following year by the company’s board in favor of a triumvirate of leaders in Michael Eisner, Frank Wells and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Most recently, Miller served as president of the board of directors at The Walt Disney Family Museum and owner of Silverado Vineyards which he founded with Diane Disney Miller, who died in 2013.

“Everyone at The Walt Disney Company is deeply saddened by the passing of Ron Miller,” current Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “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,” he said. “I was fortunate to have known him, and even luckier to have called him a friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”