Career with Disney
Walker moved to Los Angeles, California in 1924, where he attended UCLA. After graduation, he began his career at Disney as a mailroom clerk in 1938. Before long, he stepped up the ladder and found himself in the camera department and later became a unit manager for short subjects.
In 1941, Walker was forced to delay his Disney career to serve in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war, he returned to the studio. In 1956, he became vice president of advertising and sales, before being elected to the Board of Directors in 1960.
After Walt Disney died in 1966, Walker became executive vice president and chief operating officer. When Walt's brother Roy O. Disney died in 1971, he became company president, serving under Chairman and CEO Donn Tatum. In November 1976 Walker took over chief executive officer duties from Tatum, and finally in 1980 became chairman of the board upon Tatum's retirement. Walker himself retired as CEO three years later, in February 1983, but stayed on as chairman until May 1 to oversee the opening of the Tokyo Disneyland in Japan.
As a top Disney executive, Walker played a major part in the early development of Walt Disney World in Florida. He also sought to expand Disney's presence to international territory. Epcot and Tokyo Disneyland both opened under Walker's leadership, and he also presided over the dedications of both parks.
Walker continued to serve as a consultant to the company until 1990 and was member of the board of directors until 1999. His contributions culminated in his induction into the Disney Legends in 1993.
He died at age 89 in La Cañada Flintridge, California.