Walt Disney's eldest and last surviving child, Diane Disney Miller, died yesterday at age 79 in her Napa Valley home following complications from a fall, the LA Times reports. Her childhood playground visits with her sister helped inspire Disneyland, but she may have left her biggest mark with her key role in the construction of Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the LA Philharmonic, the Times notes. In 1987, her mother, Lillian Disney, put $50 million toward the building, which was designed by architect Frank Gehry and opened in 2003.
During the building process, those in charge wanted to hire a firm other than Gehry's for the key job of composing the building's working drawings, due to a perceived lack of experience. Miller stepped in in 1997 to ensure he handled the drawings, and directed a portion of her mother's gift to hiring his firm for the task. "She's 'St. Diane,' I think," Gehry later told the Times. Miller also founded the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, aimed at showing her father as a man, not just a corporate persona, the AP notes. "She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father's legacy," says Walt Disney Co. president Robert Iger. But in 1997 she had this to say of the celebrity that went with it: "My dad loved his celebrity—well, he'd earned it. I don't like living in the wake of his celebrity. It's hard on my children, people are always calling them up for Disneyland tickets." (Read more Diane Disney Miller stories.)