Disney is a big part of everyone’s childhood,
and while you might think of it as classic entertainment that’s
been made specifically for kids, it has a long history of being
influenced by popular culture. What you might think was created by
Disney out of nothing, might’ve actually been a direct result of
something that was popular in the media when the movie was being
made. Did you know that quite a few characters in Disney were
directly inspired by celebrities? Here are a few Disney characters
you’re definitely familiar with but probably had no idea which
celebrities inspired them. But once you see them side by side it’ll
all start making sense.

Maleficent – Eleanor Audley

might know that Eleanor Audley voices the character of Maleficent,
but few know that she was also asked to actually act out scenes from
the movie in front of cameras so that later on the animators could
use them as references in their work. So, in the end, they used not
only her movements and gestures as inspiration for the animated
movie, but her features also inspired the appearance of Maleficent.
And as a bonus, she was also the inspiration behind Cinderella’s
evil stepmother. Does this mean that Eleanor just looks evil by
nature or do we all see these features as evil because Disney
essentially created the stereotype out of Eleanor?

Mad Hatter – Ed Wynn

Wynn gave his voice to the mad hatter, but once you see what the
actor looked like, you’ll understand that it’s not just the voice
that he and the Mad Hatter have in common. The Alice in Wonderland
character he voices is basically Ed in cartoon form. Disney actually
heavily based the Mad Hatter’s personally on Ed Wynn.

Scat Cat — Louis Armstrong

you haven’t watched Aristocats as a child – you need to watch it
now. It’s such a masterpiece. Originally Scat Cat was meant to be
named Satchmo and he was supposed to be voiced by the famous Louis
Armstrong. But unfortunately, Armstrong had some health problems that
stopped him from voicing the character and Disney hired Scatman
Crothers to fulfil the role instead.

Ariel – Alyssa Milano

you ever thought that The Little Mermaid looks a bit like Alyssa
Milano? Well, you were right. It wasn’t a very well known fact and
Disney actually kept it on the down-low. Even Alyssa Milano didn’t
know this, and only found out when she was offered to present a
documentary about the making of The Little Mermaid. In that
documentary, you can see that animators used pictures of young Alyssa
as the reference when creating Ariel.

The Four Vultures – The Beatles

you’ve seen The Jungle Book, you’ll know that the four vultures
there had some very strange accents and quite funny haircuts. The
reason behind that is that they were inspired by the Beatles. And
Disney was hoping they’d get the band, who was already super
popular the time, to voice the characters, but John Lennon said he
doesn’t really want to appear in the movie. So they hired different
voice actors to speak in a similar enough accent.

Edna Moda – Edith Head

superhero costume designer from the Incredibles is rumored to be
based on the life and work of a real American costume designer Edith
Head. She worked for Paramount for over 40 years and designed
costumes for many movies, and eventually moved on to work for
Universal Pictures. You can definitely see the similarities in their
appearance, right? What’s even funnier, is that the actress who
voiced Edna, Linda Hunt, also looks a lot like the character.

Alice In Wonderland — Kathryn Beaumont

was an American actress that not only voiced Alice but served as a
real-life prototype for the character. She did a lot of acting for
that movie, in order for the animation artists to be able to
replicate it in the movie. There are even videos of Kathryn dressed
as Alice, acting out parts of the movie.

Ursula — Divine

Many think that Ursula from the Little Mermaid is an iconic character, but did you know it was based on Harris Glenn Milstead, who was an American actor and drag queen performer known as Divine. A lot of Ursula’s iconic gestures, facial expressions and movements, including her personality were based on the performances of Divine.

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