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*A Book Review*

Building a Company

By Bob Thomas

by Michael C. Gray

May 28, 2004

If you're like me, Walt Disney is one of your business heroes. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, "Uncle Walt" was a regular visitor on Sunday nights in living rooms across the United States. Disney cartoons were a special event. (There were no video tapes in those days.)

Most people don't know that, in the background, was Walt's older brother, Roy Disney, who helped build and run the Disney empire. Building A Company tells the story of Roy's contribution.

Walt Disney Productions was really a joint effort. If either Walt or Roy was missing, it probably wouldn't have happened.

Walt Disney was mostly the idea person and salesperson for the operation. He oversaw the creative operations and developed new projects, like Disneyland and Disney World. Roy Disney was the financial person, who implemented Walt's ideas. Some people have compared them to Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. Walt was inquisitive Pinocchio, pursuing his dreams and pushing limits. Roy was Jiminy Cricket, the practical, grounded person reminding Pinocchio of the real world they were operating in and trying to help Pinocchio reach his dreams.

Walt projected a very warm personality publicly, but was actually a stern taskmaster. Roy helped to smooth relationships with employees and suppliers.

The Disney brothers tried to keep control of Walt Disney Productions as long as possible by keeping the ownership of the company in the family. Their biggest supporter in this effort was Bank of America, which provided financing for most of the early projects, including the early Disney cartoons. Disneyland was such an expensive project that the company finally had to offer stock on the public markets to raise the necessary capital.

The story of Walt Disney Productions is an inspiring one. It was an ambitious enterprise, which experienced some very difficult times. It is also fascinating because the company was started on a shoestring in a garage during the infancy of the motion picture industry. You will find learning about this icon of our culture in the pages of this book a rewarding experience.

Buy it on Amazon: Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empires

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