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April 17

April 17, 1933 – Former President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Ron W. Miller is Born


“I’m really very proud of having been a professional athlete. I think it teaches you to be competitive, to accept challenges, and to see things through.”

On April 17, 1933, Ronald William Miller was born in California. He attended the University of Southern California, lettering in football. It was there where he met Diane Disney, daughter of Walt, on a blind date. The two married in a small church ceremony on May 9, 1954. Soon ­after the wedding, Miller was drafted into the Army, but on his return, he played with the Los Angeles Rams as a tight end. During one game, when Walt was watching from the stands, Miller was hit hard enough to be knocked unconscious. Worried about the danger of the sport and his grandchildren, Disney offered Miller a job, which Miller accepted. He joined the company in 1957, with his first assignment as a second assistant on the 1957 film Old Yeller. He would soon move to the role of associate producer for Bon Voyage, Summer Magic, Moon Pilot, and A Tiger Walks. After this, he moved up to the role of co-producer on such films as The Monkey’s Uncle, That Darn Cat!, and Monkeys, Go Home! Miller had his first full producer credit on the 1968 film Never a Dull Moment, and served as an executive producer for 12 years. In 1980, Miller was elected president of the Walt Disney Company, and was also named CEO in 1983. During his term, the Touchstone label was created, with its first film being the hit Splash; Miller was also responsible for creating The Disney Channel and initiating the studio’s first attempts at computer animation, thanks to the film Tron. Unfortunately, Miller’s tenure was rife with corporate takeover attempts, and in 1984, Miller was ousted in favor of Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. He now spends his days at the Silverado Vineyards Winery, building its reputation.