A tale as old as time, it's as if Beauty and the Beast hasn't aged a day. That is except for the fact that film turns 25 this month. Feel old yet? Yeah, me too. In 1991, a love story as iconic as Romeo and Juliet graced theaters worldwide, teaching little girls and boys everywhere a lesson unlike many other Disney productions: "Don't judge a book by its cover." And only a few short months later, Beauty and the Beast became the first animated feature film to receive a best-picture Oscar nomination (it would lose to The Silence of the Lambs, but still picked up two music-related Oscars). Here are some insider secrets and behind-the-scenes facts that might stump even the most hardcore Disney fan.
1. Walt Disney tried to develop Beauty and the Beast into a film twice. His first attempt was in the 1930s and then again in the 1950s, but gave up because the writers said the story was too challenging to adapt.
2. Glen Keane, the animator, wanted to make the Beast a character "based on something that was real." So he drew up inspiration from a gorilla, which has "this great strong brow," a buffalo to create "the general head shape," especially because there's "a sadness" in the way a buffalo hangs its head, and a lion for the mane. The Beast also has a boar's tusks, a bear's body, and a wolf's legs, Keane said on Good Morning America.
3. Beauty and the Beast was the work of 600 Disney animators and artists. The crew spent a total of four years drawing and painting the animations, before using then-modern computer technology to create the film, according to Spotlight.
4. Mrs. Potts was originally named Mrs. Chamomile. Producer Don Hahn told Vanity Fair that the name was an attempt to create "the most soothing possible association." But he and composer Howard Ashman decided on "Mrs. Potts" because it was easy to rhyme with and easy for kids. Same with Lumiere, who was originally called "Chandal" (think: chandelier), but was soon changed to Lumiere in honor of the Lumiere brothers, film and photography vets, and because it was easier to say.
5. Belle is the oldest Disney princess. At the celebratory screening of the movie's 25th anniversary in September 2016, Paige O'Hara (Belle), told Vanity Fair, "She's the only one who they ever created to be in her 20s. All the other princesses have been teenagers. So there's maturity about her."
6. And she was considered a "woman on the 90s." At least that's what screenwriter Linda Woolverton intended. In an interview with the LA Times, Woolverton said, "I'm not critical of Snow White, Cinderella... they reflected the values of their time. But it just wasn't in me to write a throwback. I wanted a woman of the '90s, someone who wanted to do something other than wait for her prince to come." Woolverton also said that Belle was inspired by Jo from Little Women.
7. It took only one take for Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts) to record the movie's titular song, "Beauty and the Beast." At the September 2016 anniversary screening, Angela told event-goers that while on a flight to New York to record the track, her plane had to make an emergency landing because of a bomb threat. "We made it just in time, and I think it was the excitement and the sense of doing it now that helped me sing the song," she said.
8. Chip was supposed to only have one line of dialogue. According to Moviefone, the world's cutest character got way more film time because the boy who voiced Chip, Bradley Pierce, impressed the filmmakers so much that they expanded his part and cut the rule of a mute music box. Still confusing, though, is how young Chip is compared to his "mother," Mrs. Potts. Seriously, has anyone else realized this age difference?
9. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated movie ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Although it lost this award, it won both Best Music, Original Score, and Best Music, Original Score for Alan Menken. And until 2010 (whenUp was nominated), Beauty and the Beast was the only animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
10. Apparently, the directors hadn't planned on Cogsworth being so knowledgeable about ~romantic~ gestures. You know that scene where the Beast asks Cogsworth and Lumiere about a special thing he could do for Belle and Cogsworth responds, "Well there's the usual things: flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep." Turns out the man who voiced Cogsworth, David Ogden Stiers, actually improvised that line and the directors liked it so much they kept it in.
11. Mickey Mouse makes a cameo in the movie. There's a thing called a "Classic Mickey," which is a geometric figure composed of three well-placed circles that resemble none other than the Mickey silhouette and, according to Mental Floss, they're hidden throughout several Disney movies (and thus, are also known as "Hidden Mickeys"). So, if you look suuuuuper closely when the Beast gives Belle that huge library, you can see the "Hidden Mickey" at the top of the center bookshelf. But, let's be honest, Belle was probably so distracted by all the Shakespeare she wasn't looking for a mouse friend.
12. Regis Philbin auditioned for the role of the Beast. But the role went to former teen-idol Robby Benson, who told Entertainment Weekly that when he recorded the death scene, "something magical happened. I closed my eyes and saw my daughter in a theater. Knowing how emotional she gets, I suddenly felt like I was the Beast. I started performing, and the next thing I knew, it was over."'
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Elizabeth Bacharach is the Assistant Editor at Women’s Health where she writes and edits content about mental and physical health, food and nutrition, sexual health, and lifestyle trends across WomensHealthMag.com and the print magazine. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, lives in New York City, and dreams of becoming best friends with Ina Garten, who is, undeniably, an absolute queen.
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