10 Real Life People Who Inspired the Look of Disney Characters We all Know and Love

Many of the famous (and infamous) Disney characters throughout the chronology of animated films have been inspired by living, breathing people. Check out the story and inspiration behind some of these characters and the real life faces of those Disney classics.

  • Ursula the Sea Witch - Drag Queen Devine

    While the famous drag queen had inspired the appearance of the sea witch, she was unfortunately unable to see the final production in the theater; she died before the film was finished.
  • Pocahontas - Irene Bedard

    Irene Bedard is a Native American actress who is the voice and face of the Disney character. She also played Pocahantas' mother in a live-action rendition of Pocahontas, "The New World."
  • Ariel - Alyssa Milano

    While most of the physical features of Arial were based off of the "Who's the Boss" star, Ariel's red hair is modeled from astronaut Sally Ride.
  • Snow White - Marge Champion

    Marge Champion was a famous dancer in the 1930s and 1940s. After modeling for Disney animators, she eventually became the inspiration for Snow White's appearance and movement. She was also the model for the Blue Ferry in Pinocchio and Maid Marion in Robin Hood.
  • Captain Hook - Hans Conried

    While Conried was initially only meant to voice the character, the animators thought that he was so vibrant and genuine that they decided to model the appearance of Captain Hook after him as well.
  • Belle - Sherri Stoner

    Stoner was a writer and producer for Disney before she became the inspiration for the main character in Beauty and the Beast. She worked mostly on TV shows including "Animaniacs" and "Tiny Toon Adventures."
  • Aladdin - Tom Cruise

    Animators first planned to model the character from Michael J. Fox and his character from "Back to the Future," but they decided that Aladdin needed a more mature look so they settled on Tom Cruise. Aladdin's pants, however, were inspired directly from M.C. Hammer!
  • Vultures from "The Jungle Book" - The Beatles

    The initial plan was to have the Beatles themselves voice the dialogue and perform the one song featured by the vultures, but John Lennon was not digging the idea. The Liverpool accents and iconic haircuts remained.
  • The Genie - Robin Williams

    Robin Williams gave an amazing performance voicing the Genie in the film, Aladdin. Much of the dialogue performed by Williams was also improvised throughout the movie.
  • Peter Pan - Bobby Driscoll

    Bobby Driscoll was a child actor that was adored throughout the 1950s for his talent and boyish charm and appearance. He starred in may of Disney's live-action films and received an Academy Juvenile Award for his outstanding performance.
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