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Donn B. Tatum (January 9, 1913 – May 31, 1993, Los Angeles) was the first non-Disney family member to be president of Walt Disney Productions. Tatum held senior executive positions with Disney for 25 years and was its chairman from 1971 until 1980. He then served as a director until 1992, when he was named "Director Emeritus". He played a major role in the creation of Walt Disney World Resort, EPCOT Center and Tokyo Disneyland.

Donn Tatum
Donn B. Tatum

(1913-01-09)January 9, 1913
DiedMay 31, 1993(1993-05-31) (aged 80)
OccupationEntertainment industry executive
Years active1956–1993


Early lifeEdit

Tatum grew up in Los Angeles and graduated magna cum laude from Stanford University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and earned two law degrees from Oxford University. He passed the California bar in 1938 and became involved in entertainment law at Lillick, Geary and McHose.

He held a number of co. positions and served as counsel for RCA, NBC and ABC. He became general manager of KABC-TV in Los Angeles and Western television director for ABC.

Walt Disney CompanyEdit

Tatum joined Disney as production business manager in 1956 and in 1971, became chief executive and board chairman following the death of Roy O. Disney — becoming the first non-Disney family member to head the company. Tatum served as CEO until November 1976 and as chairman.

On June 3, 1980, he retired as chairman and CEO of Disney Production turning over the company to Card Walker. He stayed on the Disney board as executive committee chair.[1]

Public serviceEdit

He was CalArts board chairman and president of the Disney Foundation, California Broadcasting Assn., United Cerebral Palsy Assn. and Stanford Club of Los Angeles.

Tatum was a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, and an honorary member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and Hollywood Radio & Television Society.

He served as a board member of The Huntington Library, California State Fair and Exposition, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association., Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles, the John Tracy Clinic, Western Digital, Union Oil, Bank of America and Greyhound Lines.


Tatum died on May 31, 1993 of cancer at his home in Pacific Palisades. Then Disney CEO Michael Eisner, and President Frank Wells said "He served as a director of the company until his resignation last year, when he was named director emeritus. The world will miss Donn, but we at Disney who looked to him for wisdom, guidance and balance will miss him more." [2][3]


  1. ^ The New York Times, June 4, 1980. Page D1.
  2. ^ "FORMER DISNEY CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE DONN TATUM DIES". The Free Library. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Donn Benjamin Tatum (1913-1993) Grave Site | BillionGraves". BillionGraves. Retrieved 2017-09-04.
Business positions
Preceded by
Roy O. Disney
President of The Walt Disney Company
Succeeded by
Card Walker
Preceded by
Roy O. Disney
CEO of The Walt Disney Company
Succeeded by
Card Walker
Preceded by
Roy O. Disney
Chairman of The Walt Disney Company
Succeeded by
Card Walker