J. Algar; Disney Animator, Film Director Won 9 Oscars


James Nelson Algar, animator, writer, director and producer at Walt Disney Studios for 43 years, who shared nine Academy Awards for nature and adventure documentaries and features, has died. He was 85.

Algar, who also created shows for Disneyland and Disney World, died Thursday at his home in Carmel, Disney officials said Friday.

His documentaries, features and television shows most frequently focused on animals--dogs, wolves, geese, lions, seals and sea turtles.

Among Algar’s classic Oscar-winning films were “The Vanishing Prairie,” “Beaver Valley,” “Bear Country,” “The Living Desert” and “White Wilderness.”


Other features were “The Legend of Lobo” and “The Incredible Journey.”

For the theme parks and World’s Fairs, Algar wrote and co-produced Disneyland’s “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” and Disney World’s “The Hall of Presidents.” He also led several of the Circle Vision 360 productions, including “America the Beautiful” and “Magic Carpet ‘Round the World,” which have been popular at the theme parks.

A native of Modesto, Calif., Algar earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism at Stanford University, where he was a cartoonist for the campus humor magazine. He went to work for Disney in 1934 as an animator on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Algar then directed “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a key sequence of the 1940 animated feature-length film “Fantasia.”


His son James Drake Algar told The Times in 1990 that his father directed the sequence in 1938 as a stand-alone short subject to showcase Mickey Mouse. The short was meant to make the mouse more competitive against his new archrival, Donald Duck.

Algar wrote and directed several of the “Disney True Life Adventure” series created between 1950 and 1960.

Algar earned awards from the Thomas Edison Foundation, the International Edinburgh Festival, Look magazine, the Southern California Motion Picture Council and the American Humane Assn.

In addition to his son James of Valencia, he is survived by two other sons, Bruce of Dallas and John of Charleston, S.C.; a daughter, Laurie Adams, of Augusta, Ga.; nine grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.