Entertainment & Arts

Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, dies

Diane Disney Miller
Image caption Miller was Walt and Lillian Disney's first daughter

The eldest daughter of Walt Disney, Diane Disney Miller, who inspired him to build the first Disneyland theme park, has died aged 79.

The Walt Disney Co confirmed she died at her California home on Tuesday, due to complications from a fall.

The company's CEO Robert Iger said she would be remembered for "her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father's legacy".

Miller founded the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco in 2009.

"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 Co and in the hearts of fans everywhere," said Iger in a statement.

Image caption Seen here with architect Frank Gehry, Miller was instrumental in the building of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles

Miller was born to Walt and Lillian Disney on 18 December, 1933 and, the next day, The Los Angeles Times declared: "Mickey Mouse has a daughter."

She remembered her father as a man who was caring and patient with his children.

"He'd take me and my sister Sharon to the merry-go-round at Griffith Park and stand there all day waiting until we were ready to go," she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1998.

"As he stood there, he kept thinking there should be more for parents and children to do together, and the idea for Disneyland was born."

Image caption Diane and her younger sister Sharon were the inspirations for the Disneyland theme park

Miller is survived by her husband, Ronald, who owns the Silverado Vineyards Winery in Napa Valley, as well as seven children and 13 grandchildren. Her younger sister, Sharon, died of cancer in 1993.

In San Francisco she was involved in Bay Area arts organizations and was on the board of the San Francisco Symphony.

Miller played a key role in the completion of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, which was started with a $50 million (£31m) gift from her mother and designed by Frank Gehry.

Project leaders such as Richard Riordan, the mayor at the time, and billionaire Eli Broad felt Gehry's firm lacked the experience to execute the plans for the building's unusual curved polished steel design.

However Miller disagreed and, at a crucial point in 1997, threatened to withhold around $20 million (£12.5m) that still remained of her mother's gift, if Gehry was not kept on.

"I wanted something that would bear my father's name, that would come from his wealth but not be commercial," Miller told the Los Angeles Times in September, not long before her fall, as she chaired a gala commemorating the building's 10th anniversary.

She added: "I think we achieved that."

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