James Algar
Born(1912-06-11)June 11, 1912
Modesto, California, United States
DiedFebruary 26, 1998(1998-02-26) (aged 85)
Carmel, California, United States
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, film producer
Years active1934–1977

James Algar (June 11, 1912 – February 26, 1998)[1] was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer.[2] He worked at Walt Disney Productions for 43 years and received the Disney Legends award in 1998.[3] He was born in Modesto, California and died in Carmel, California.


Algar directed an Oscar-winning documentary White Wilderness, which contains a scene that supposedly depicts a mass lemming migration, and ends with the lemmings leaping into the Arctic Ocean. In 1982, the CBC Television news magazine program The Fifth Estate broadcast a documentary about animal cruelty in Hollywood called Cruel Camera, focusing on White Wilderness, as well as the television program Wild Kingdom. Bob McKeown, the host of the CBC program, discovered that the lemming scene was filmed at the Bow River near downtown Calgary, and not in the Arctic Ocean as implied by the film. McKeown interviewed a lemming expert, who claimed that the particular species of lemming shown in the film is not known to migrate, much less commit mass suicide.[4][5]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Staff (March 22, 1998). "James Algar dies at 85". Variety. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "James Algar". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2015. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  3. ^ Disney Legends – James Algar
  4. ^ "Did Disney Fake Lemming Deaths for the Nature Documentary 'White Wilderness'?". Snopes.com. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  5. ^ "Cruelty to Animals in the Entertainment Business : Cruel Camera - Watch Original Video : the fifth estate : CBC News". June 15, 2013. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2021.