Some of the stories behind the making of the True-Life Adventure documentaries.

n the December 1959 issue of Wisdom magazine, Walt Disney is quoted as saying: "Animals have personalities like people and must be studied. The spontaneity of the animal—you find it in small children, but it's gradually trained out of them."

Walt's love and fascination with animals began with his childhood years on a farm in Marceline and led to his creation of a series showcasing animals and nature known as the True-Life Adventures.

Let me be honest. As a Disney historian and a Disneyphile, I am truly grateful and excited that the Walt Disney Company has released all the True-Life Adventures series on special DVDs this holiday season.

However, as a kid watching the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights, my heart would sink when one of these innovative films would be shown. I wanted to see Disney animation or even more, the shows that were devoted to the behind-the-scenes stories of Disneyland and its attractions or how animation was made.

At that time, I never appreciated the fact that these films introduced several generations to the wonders of the wild and transformed how nature documentaries were made.

So to supplement the DVDs that were recently released and to help others more fully enjoy them, I thought I'd take this column to share some little-known insights.

Walt made thirteen nature films in the 1950s known as the True-Life Adventures series. Eight of them won Academy Awards. They were shown in public schools for decades and some young people were even influenced into going into environmental careers due to seeing these films.