Yesterday the world learned the sad news that Diane Disney Miller had died at age 79. She was the sole biological daughter of Walt Disney and Lilly Disney and sister of Sharon, with whom the pair of girls are said to have inspired their father to create Disneyland.
Injuries from a fall were stated to be the cause of death, taking Diane from this world far too soon.
Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger released a statement on behalf of The Walt Disney Company on the legacy of Diane Disney Miller:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Diane Disney Miller. She is remembered by Disney fans around the world as the beloved daughter of Walt Disney, and one who graciously shared her family history and personal memories of her father.
Diane was a fierce guardian of her father’s legacy who never hesitated to set the record straight, opening The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco to bring her father’s fascinating story to life. In our many conversations over the years, Diane’s unique and special perspective about her father only deepened my considerable appreciation for him. Diane was incredibly generous in that regard, freely sharing her personal insights and providing details that deepened our knowledge, and we remain grateful for her many valuable contributions to our efforts to preserve Disney history. She and her sister, Sharon, have long been recognized as Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland, a place he created for families to have fun together. For that reason and many others, Diane will always have a special place in our company’s legacy and in the hearts of fans.
She was also known for her philanthropic efforts, including playing an integral role in the development of the renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to ensure the creation of a unique venue bearing her father’s name that she believed would be “a wonderful thing for the city, for the spirit, for the soul.”
Diane was the wife of former Disney CEO Ron Miller, as well as mother to their seven children, Christopher, Joanna, Tamara, Jennifer, Walter, Ronald and Patrick. She also had 13 grandchildren and had the great joy of recently welcoming her first great-grandchild into the world. We send our sincere condolences to the entire family and our thoughts remain with them during this difficult time.”
The Disney Parks Blog shared a photo of Diane taken recently, posing with the Storytellers statue of Walt and Mickey Mouse at Disney California Adventure, quoting her as reacting, “He was older when I met him!”
The much older photo below, taken circa 1941, features Walt with daughters Sharon (left) and Diane long before Disneyland would come to exist. More recently, Diane championed the creation of The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, now serving as part of her legacy as well as her father’s. The museum has not planned a public event remembering Diane, but might schedule one at a future date. In the meantime, they have commemorated her life online.