Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney, dies at 79

LOS ANGELES - Diane Disney Miller, the daughter of Walt Disney and a key proponent for the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, died Tuesday at age 79.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Diane Disney Miller and our thoughts are with her family during this difficult time," according to Robert Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Co. "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 Company and in the hearts of fans everywhere.

"She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father's legacy, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her," he said.

Miller died at her home in Napa from complications of a fall, according to a statement from the Walt Disney Family Museum, which Miller co-founded at the Presidio in San Francisco.

She was Walt Disney's only biological daughter, born to the famed showman and Lillian Disney in 1933. Walt and Lillian Disney adopted Sharon Mae Disney at birth in 1936. She died in 1993.

Miller and her husband, Ron, had seven children, 13 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. The couple operated a vineyard in Napa.

In the late 1990s, she played a key role in pushing for the completion of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a project that became bogged down in cost concerns despite a $50 million donation for the project from Lillian Disney. Diane Disney Miller pushed for completion of the project and threw her support behind architect Frank Gehry's designs for the concert hall.

The hall opened in 2004.

"She may be best known to the world as Walt Disney's daughter, but here in Los Angeles County, I will remember her as the person who played a crucial role in protecting and realizing architect Frank Gehry's brilliant design for Disney Hall," County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. "I had the great privilege of working closely with her during the most challenging time in the project's history. If not for her unyielding personal commitment, all would have been lost."

Miller was the president of the board of directors of the Walt Disney Family Foundation, which operates the museum at the Presidio. She was also a noted philanthropist and was a benefactor of the San Francisco Symphony.

Her death came about a month before Disney's release of "Saving Mr. Banks," a film dramatizing the efforts of Walt Disney -- at the urging of his daughters -- to make a movie out of the girls' favorite book, "Mary Poppins."

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a memorial fund established at The Walt Disney Family Museum. Funeral services are expected to be private.

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