True Life Adventure Seal Island Wins an Oscar174 for Short SubjectTwo Reel

03241949_WDA_TDIDSealIsland.jpg Mar 24, 1949

On this day in Disney, Walt proved to his distributor that the public was interested in documentary nature films as the first feature in the True-Life Adventures series garnered an Oscar. Walt hired Alfred and Elma Milotte, two nature cinematographers, to shoot the footage that formed the beginning of the series. They began filming in Alaska and as they started sending the footage back, Walt took a liking to the seals. He asked them to focus on the species’ life cycle and to avoid showing people or man’s presence. Walt’s distributor RKO had no faith that the film would do well, offering that no one would want to sit in a theater for a half an hour and watch a nature film. So, to prove him wrong, Walt, who had a friend who ran the Crown Theater in Pasadena, ran the film for a week in order to qualify for an Academy Award. Sure enough, it won took the award for Best Documentary. According to legend, Walt told Roy to take the award over to RKO and bang them over the head with it. Soon enough, RKO was distributing the rest of the Walt’s True Life Adventures and the series became a hit.