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Seal Island (film)

Seal Island is a 1948 American documentary film directed by James Algar. Produced by Walt Disney, it was the first installment of the True-Life Adventures series of nature documentaries. It won an Oscar in 1949 for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel).[1][dead link][2]

Seal Island
Seal Island.jpg
Film poster for Seal Island
Directed byJames Algar
Produced byBen Sharpsteen
Walt Disney
Narrated byWinston Hibler
Music byOliver Wallace
CinematographyAlfred Milotte
Edited byAnthony Gerard
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • December 21, 1948 (1948-12-21)
Running time
27 minutes
CountryUnited States



In 1947, Walt Disney contracted with Alfred and Elma Milotte to shoot documentary footage of the wildlife and culture of Alaska. Disney did not see the theatrical value in the footage of human activity in Alaska, but he was intrigued with footage that the Milottes shot of the seal population at the Pribilof Islands. Disney himself coined the title Seal Island for the film, and planned it as the first in a new series of nature documentaries called True-Life Adventures.[3]

The Milottes shot more than 100,000 feet of film and spent over a year filming the seals. The total production cost Disney a little over $100,000.[4]


RKO Pictures, the studio distributing Disney's films at the time, initially refused to release the half-hour Seal Island. Disney booked the film for its Los Angeles and New York theatrical engagements, and RKO agreed to release the film nationally only after it proved its commercial potential and received the Academy Award.[3]


  1. ^ "New York Times: Seal Island". NY Times. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  2. ^ "The 21st Academy Awards (1949) Nominees and Winners". (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Bob Thomas (1976). Walt Disney: An American Original. Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books. pp. 213–4. ISBN 0-671-66232-5.
  4. ^ Neal Gabler (2007). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Random House. pp. 444–5. ISBN 0-679-75747-3.

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