James Algar dies at 85

Longtime Disney producer-writer-director

James Algar, longtime Walt Disney Co. producer, writer and director, and helmer of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” died Feb. 26 at his home in Carmel following a brief illness. He was 85.

Algar graduated from Stanford, where he edited the university’s humor magazine, to which he contributed original cartoons and where he developed an interest in animation.

In 1934, Algar got a job working for Disney Studios as an animator. He began his tenure there by working on Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and then went on to direct “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a short from the film “Fantasia.”

Algar also directed sequences in “Bambi” and several films Disney produced for the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II.

He then began directing and writing nature and animal adventure films for Disney. Eight of those films, including “The Living Desert,” “White Wilderness” and “Grand Canyon,” won Academy Awards.

He worked on 26 one-hour episodes for the original “The Wonderful World of Disney” TV series, producing 14 of them.

He also wrote and co-produced “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” for the 1964 World’s Fair and later for Disneyland, and wrote and produced “The Hall of Presidents” attraction at Walt Disney World.

Algar received a number of individual honors, including the Look Magazine Movie Award for outstanding achievement in production and two Certificates of Award from the Southern California Motion Picture Council.

Algar is survived by three sons, a daughter, nine grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

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