Known for creating the Walt Disney Company, Sharon Mae Disney remained out of the public eye. She created trusts to pass on her fortune. She also became a philanthropist. She had three children with Brown and two more with William S. Lund. Her children had disabilities, but she stayed out of the spotlight and remained an active philanthropist.
sharon mae disney’s children suffered disabilities
Two of Sharon Mae Disney’s children suffered from disabilities. Michelle was diagnosed with dyslexia, and Brad was believed to have Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome. Both of them attended private schools for children with learning disabilities. While Brad has worked in restaurants and retail establishments, Michelle never received gainful employment.
The children were raised by Sharon and Brad, but suffered mental health problems. Michelle suffered a brain aneurysm in 2009 and Brad suffered from chronic cognitive disability. Trustees also noted that Brad did not have the mental ability to handle the family’s finances. Meanwhile, Victoria, who was a drug addict and alcoholic, died of liver failure.
She stayed out of the limelight
Sharon Mae Disney was born on December 21, 1936. Two weeks later, she was adopted by the Disney family. The Disneys were open about the adoption with family members, but kept it secret from the public. Her adoptive parents did not want to refer to her as “Walt Disney’s adopted daughter.” They wanted her to feel like a part of the Disney family.
Despite the attention her father received during his lifetime, she remained relatively unknown. Her mother, Diane, had seven children and did not enter the Disney business. However, after her father’s death, she decided to publicly defend him. This led to the first Disney biography.
She created trusts to pass on her fortune
When Sharon Mae Disney created trusts to pass her fortune to her children, she aimed to keep the family out of the spotlight. She tried to shield her children from the Disney fame, and stayed out of the limelight herself. Brad, meanwhile, remained an ordinary person despite having inherited his mother’s fortune. Although he never met his grandfather Walt, Brad picked up his interest in trains and model airplanes. He was also close with his twin sister until recently.
Trustees were chosen to handle the children’s trusts. Michelle Bradford appointed her sister Diane, her husband Bill and a real estate agent who scouted Disney World locations. These trustees each received $1 million a year, as long as Michelle remained the trustee.
She was an active philanthropist
Born in Idaho, Sharon Mae Disney was an active philanthopist. She grew up on a government school, and at one point donated playground equipment to children in need. Later, she donated $200,000 to the Lapwai school track and a concession stand, and also donated money to the University of Idaho to create scholarships for Native American children.
She also helped build the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a concert hall in downtown Los Angeles. Her involvement was instrumental in ensuring the building was a cutting-edge facility. She convinced architect Frank Gehry to work on the project, and she arranged for the Disney Foundation to pay Gehry’s fee. The concert hall opened in 2003, costing $247 million.
She died of breast cancer
Sharon Mae Disney died of breast cancer on February 16, 1993. She was a divorced mother of three who became a successful actress and singer in the early 1950s. After her husband’s death, she married Ronald Miller, a former USC student and football star. They had three children: Christopher, Joanna, and William. In the early 1950s, she had a small role in a movie called Johnny Tremain. By the mid-1960s, she had settled into a comfortable life as a single mother of three. She was born on December 21, 1936.
The Disneys adopted her two weeks later, and the adoption was not widely publicized. The couple made sure that she felt like a member of the family and didn’t want others to know about the adoption. According to her sister, Pat Williams, the family didn’t want to refer to her as a daughter of Walt Disney. They kept her name private, however, for her safety.