January 9, 1916 – Former President of The Walt Disney Company and Disney Legend Card Walker is Born
“Card was instrumental in keeping Disney strong and growing in the critical years that followed the passing of founders Walt and Roy Disney.” – Bob Iger, President and CEO of Disney
On January 9, 1916, Esmond Cardon “Card” Walker was born in Rexburg, Ohio. In 1924, Walker his family moved to Los Angeles, and after graduating from UCLA, he began working for the Disney Studios in 1938 as a mailroom clerk. Walker quickly moved out of the mailroom and into the company, first starting in the camera department, then working in the production department. With the outbreak of World War II, Walker, like many at the studio, did his part in the war effort by enlisting with the Navy, working as a flight deck officer. After the war ended, he returned to the Studio to work in the story department; Walker used a new polling system called Audience Research Institute (ARI) to gauge audience reactions to possible Disney animated features. In 1956, Walker continued to climb the Disney ladder when he was named the Vice President of Advertising and Sales. Proving a valuable asset in this area, he was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1960. Walker’s success didn’t stop there: in 1965, he was named the Vice President of Marketing; in 1967, he was then named Executive Vice President of Operations; in 1968, he was then named the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. This was followed by his election to President of the Walt Disney Company in 1971, a position he held for five years. Under Walker’s leadership, he not only helped keep the company strong during the turbulent time after the deaths of Walt and Roy O. Disney, but helped cultivate and protect the Disney tradition as it expanded to parks around the globe and back home, such as with the creation of Tokyo Disneyland and the Disney Channel. In 1980, he became the Chairman of the Board. Walker retired soon after in 1983, but continued to act in a consultancy role until 1990. For his work with the company, he was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1993. He retired from the Board of Directors in 1999, after 61 years with the company, but was named an emeritus member. Walker passed away in 2005 in La Cañada Flintridge, California.