Who were the Milottes ?

Although Walt Disney was very proud of his contribution towards the war efforts in World War II, after the war, Walt wanted a new direction. The US government contracts that had sustained him during the war were ending and his educational and commercial films were struggling. He did have full feature animations films in the works, Walt had assigned all of his top talent to make Cinderella, which had been in development for several years, along with Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. But Walt's creative mind was also looking for something no other major studio had ever done before.

 

A visit to Alaska in 1947 gave Walt the something new he was looking for. Disney believed the public would love seeing the Alaskan wilderness on the big screen. He was inspired by the films from a local cinematography couple named Alfred and Elma Milotte who were already well known in Alaska for their wildlife photography and films. Walt immediately hired them to film on location the beauty of Alaska.

 

 

The result was the first of Disney’s celebrated True-Life Adventure films, Seal Island, which won the first Academy Award® for a Wildlife Documentary. The same year Walt's interest grew for the Alaskan people and the Milottes filmed the Alaskan Eskimo which won another Academy Award® in 1954.

 

The pinnacle of the Disney/Milotte collaboration came in the 1955 film The African Lion where the Milottes spent nearly three years living with lions on the great Serengeti of east-central Africa.  During their Disney career, the Milottes’ films won a total of six Oscars®, including Beaver Valley, The Alaskan Eskimo, Bear Country, Nature’s Half Acre, and Water Birds.

 

Elma and Alfred Milotte

Walt Disney -1945

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