Andre the Seal
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="307"] Andre the Seal returns to the New England Aquarium in 1978. Watch the full story.[/caption]
Andre the Seal was a beloved figure in New England in the 1970s and 80s. I knew about him from the 1994 motion picture Andre, which is based on the true story or at least on the book, which is based on the actual true story. (A lot of hardcore Andre the Seal fans, don’t really get behind the movie.) No matter how true to life the children’s movie is, we now know that there is film footage of the actual Andre the Seal in our very own WCVB collection. For those who don’t know a lot about Andre the Seal and his local significance to Boston, let me give you a little history.
[caption id="attachment965" align="alignleft" width="300"]<a href="http://bostonlocaltv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/800px-RockportHarbor.jpg"> Rockport, ME Harbor, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
Andre was a harbor seal, who was born in Rockport, Maine in 1961. Harry Goodridge, his trainer, found him when he was 2 days old and had been abandoned by his mother. He raised him and taught him to do tricks, which amused the Rockport tourists. However, as he got older, Andre became so friendly with people that he would jump into boats, sometimes capsizing them. When it was decided that Andre couldn’t spend all year roaming freely in Rockport, Goodridge arranged for him to spend his winters at the New England Aquarium in Boston, starting in 1973. The seal was transported down from Maine to Boston every year, first by truck, and
[caption id="attachment983" align="alignright" width="300"]<a href="http://bostonlocaltv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/800px-2010aquariumBostonMA5445801293.jpg"> New England Aquarium in Boston, courtesy Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
later by plane. At the end of his stay, Andre was let go off the coast of Marblehead, where he began his swim up the coast back home to Rockport. He usually made the trip in less than five days, although one time he took fourteen, having elected to take a more round about route. This annual swim became a huge tourist sensation, and as a Google News search will show you, was reported on by many local papers every year.
While there are many stories in the collection about Andre either being brought down to the Aquarium or swimming back to Maine, here are the descriptions from the assignment sheets of the more interesting highlights of Andre’s life that we have on film:
Andre and Spot Andre the Seal has a new companion. He’s Spot and he swims in the tank with Andre
Cabot Spot Goes to Andre God forbid, Andre, the famous seal, friend of Spence Gregory, Chet Curtis, Jim Thislek and Jon Henning [all WCVB reporters/executives], should live alone in Maine. He needs Cabot Spot to share his summer vacation digs.
Smoke the Seal This is a female harbor seal who was taken in a crate from the aquarium and taken to Marblehead where she is expected to swim northing looking for her pal, Andre, the alleged biter
Andre the Seal Comes Back To the aquarium to be reunited with pregnant Smoke
[caption id="attachment984" align="alignleft" width="300"]<a href="http://bostonlocaltv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Pinnipedunderwater.jpg"> Habor Seal Underwater, courtesy Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
Over the years Andre spent at the aquarium he befriended other seals, fell in love, and became a father. His life was full of both human and seal friends, and in addition to those who knew he well, he had a huge fan base. There is even a statue of Andre in Rockport, which he helped to unveil himself. In July 1986 Andre was found dead, and was laid to rest by his trainer and friend Harry Goodridge.
I sure never expected this job to lead me to write a blog post about a pregnant seal (or any kind of seal for that matter), but Andre was a significant figure in Boston Local News, who I am glad to know more about, and who’s story I’m happy we have preserved in this collection.
As part of the first round of digitizing completed during the project, we digitize several reels of Andre the Seal film, which are now available.
Associated Press. “Andre the Seal Found Dead.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 21, 1986. Accessed April 9, 2012. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hgEfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yGkEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4611,85504&dq=andre+the+seal+boston+aquarium&hl=en
Associate Press. “Romance finds Andre the Seal.” The Morning Record and Journal, June 30, 1977. Accessed April 9, 2012. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=6v9HAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lAANAAAAIBAJ&pg=6373,4979508&dq=andre+the+seal+boston+aquarium&hl=en
Associated Press. “Trainer greets Andre: Seal ends 14-day swim.” The Morning Record, April 27, 1976. Accessed April 9, 2012. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=HQZIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=QAANAAAAIBAJ&pg=2634,3981490&dq=andre+the+seal+boston+aquarium&hl=en
Carroll, Adams P. "Andre Top Banana Again At the Boston Aquarium." The Telegraph, November 18, 1976. Accessed April 9, 2012. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=AaUrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=xPwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4433,3800390&dq=andre+the+seal+boston+aquarium&hl=en
Cooke, Stephanie S. "Andre the Seal Heads Out to Sea On Annual 160-Mile Trip to Maine." Schenectady Gazette, May 3, 1979. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=FIgwAAAAIBAJ&sjid=TOAFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1244,799744&dq=andre+the+seal+boston+aquarium&hl=en
Hubbard, John. “Andre takes first flight.” Bangor Daily News, November 17, 1976. Accessed April 9, 2012. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=uQQ0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=PCMIAAAAIBAJ&pg=3779,409364&dq=andre+the+seal+boston+aquarium&hl=en
United Press International. “Andre, seal helps unveil his statue.” The Hour, October 11, 1978. Accessed April 9, 2012. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_yZJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=rgUNAAAAIBAJ&pg=5650,2491409&dq=andre+the+seal+boston+aquarium&hl=en