Denise Anne Greenawalt, longtime publicity executive for the Walt Disney Studios, died in her sleep following a long illness on May 22 at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. She was 52.
Greenawalt was born in Philadelphia and attended Loyola Marymount School of Film and Television and later received her MBA from UCLA.
With a lifelong dream of working at Disney, Greenawalt rose through the ranks after she was hired as an assistant for the Walt Disney Studios field publicity department in 1986. By the mid-90s, she was named VP of national publicity.
During her 16-year tenure with the Mouse House, she played a key role in developing and executing publicity campaigns for many of the studio’s biggest animated hits including “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2.”
Her other campaigns included work for such films as “Tarzan,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas,” “Mulan,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “The Princess Diaries” and many more.
In 2002, Greenawalt retired from Disney for health reasons. But she became an active volunteer for several causes.
Greenawalt also volunteered for Elton John’s Aids Foundation as well as the La Canada Thursday Club, where she was in charge of the Debutante Program. She stepped down last year and moved into an advisory role.
Longtime friend Elton John said of Greenawalt, “The most beautiful and courageous woman. She was an inspiration.”
She is survived by her mother and a brother.