Diane Disney Miller, Philanthropist and Daughter of Walt Disney, Dies at 79

Diane Disney Miller Obit
Tony Barson Archive/WireImage

Philanthropist Diane Disney Miller, who was the daughter of Walt Disney, died Tuesday at her home in Napa, Calif. She had suffered a fall in September from which she never recovered.

Disney Miller, the eldest and only biological daughter of Lillian and Walt Disney, helped shepherd the development of Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, which was designed by architect Frank Gehry and opened in 2004. When Gehry tried to walk off the project in 1997, Disney Miller persuaded him to stay, saying that the remaining funds from her mother’s gift could not be used unless he remained as architect.

walt disney diane disney miller

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Diane Disney Miller and our thoughts are with her family during this difficult time,” said Disney prexy and CEO Robert Iger. “As the beloved daughter of Walt Disney and one of his inspirations for creating Disneyland, she holds a special place in the history of the Walt Disney Company and in the hearts of fans everywhere. She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father’s legacy, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”

“Mickey Mouse has a daughter,” announced the L.A. Times when she was born. Walt Disney was said to have been inspired to create Disney by taking Diane to the Griffith Park merry-go-round as a child.

At age 20, Diane Disney was introduced to USC student Ron Miller; they married in 1954, and he survives her. Walt Disney helped Miller get jobs on various Disney shows, and by 1978 he was president and then CEO of Walt Disney Productions until being ousted in 1984. Since 1981, the Miller family has operated Napa’s Silverado Vineyards Winery.

After Disney Hall was completed, she moved on to nurturing her father’s legacy through the creation of the Walt Disney Family Museum, which opened in San Francisco in 2009.

Her adopted sister, Sharon Mae Disney, died in 1993. In addition to her husband, she is survived by seven children.

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  1. Jules Vismale says:

    Diane Disney is dus ongeveer even oud geworden (79 jaar) als haar neef Roy Edward Disney, die in 2009 overleed, en zij haalde net als hij net de 80 jaar niet. Sommigen van haar familieleden werden vrij oud hoewel haar geliefde vader Walt Disney (door zijn ongezonde levensstijl) maar 65 jaar werd en in 1966 overleed en zij hem dus 47 jaar overleefde. Ze werd nooit zo beroemd als hij hoewel Diane de enigste biologische dochter van Walt was en haar moeder Lilian (die verantwoordelijk was voor de naam Mickey Mouse) die 98 jaar werd. Diane mocht lang profiteren van het imperium van haar vader die ze eindelijk heeft teruggevonden en weer voorgoed met hem is herenigd! Ze heeft haar eeuwige rust in het hiernamaals ruimschoots verdiend!

    naam Mickey Mouse) die 98 jaar oud werd. Diane heeft lang en gelukkig mogen leven en genoten van het imperium

  2. Mark says:

    I met Diane Disney Miller when the Oakland Museum of California hosted the Disneyland 50th Anniversary exhibit. I was the Deputy Director and she was a gracious, classy, and modest person. She was a real supporter of California art and artists and was very down to earth in all of her interactions with everyone. She was very dedicated to her father and what he meant to millions of people.

  3. Matthew says:

    Saddened to hear of the death of Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s first daughter and the inspiration for Disneyland. I had the opportunity to meet her and her Husband(Chairman and CEO) Ron Miller. She was a warm and graceful person who dedicated her life to spreading the legacy of her father and be the public face for her family.

  4. Nanny Mo says:

    R.I.P. Say hello to dad! And thank you and your Trojan hubby for pushing the legacy forward.

  5. sunii79 says:

    Reblogged this on DCP Sp14 Chronicles and commented:
    “As the beloved daughter of Walt Disney and one of his inspirations for creating Disneyland, she holds a special place in the history of the Walt Disney Company and in the hearts of fans everywhere. She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father’s legacy, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.” RIP Diane.

  6. Mark Isenberg says:

    With the soon to be released film about Mrs.Travers of Mary Poppins,this is another milepost to remember how lucky we were to have Walt Disney create magic for so many for so long. Unfortunately,ESPN is not magical just another Disney profit center and ABC has been a major creative disappointment since Disney took over. But,this is a day to salute the Disney legacy and express sympathy for Mrs. Miller’s passing to her family.

  7. Dick Delson says:

    Miller, who payed for SC wanted to play in the NFL for one year. Walt told him that if he did, he’d never work for the compaany

  8. salsa pants says:

    She was younger than Mickey! God Bless, rest in peace and prayer.

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