Disney’s 1950 Cinderella has long been one of the most beloved productions from Walt Disney Animation. The story of the orphaned young maiden who was forced to be a servant in her own home and then catches the eye of the prince at the ball is one that Disney fans of all ages have treasured for decades.
And though we know long before Lady Tremaine knows that Cinderella is the beautiful girl dancing with the prince at the ball, even the most sold-out Cinderella fans are surprised to learn that the film has harbored a few secrets since it was first released in 1950.
The 1950 film features one of Walt’s most favorite animation sequences.
Walt Disney was a genius and a visionary who doubled as an animator in his very early days. But over the years, we have learned that it wasn’t usually Walt himself who was drawing Mickey Mouse, and he had very definite feelings about his own characters. (Walt couldn’t stand Goofy, and the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp irritated him.) But there were pieces of animation, however, that Walt simply adored, and one of those is found in Cinderella.
When Cinderella’s fairy godmother appears to help the young girl ready herself for the ball, a series of beautiful transformations takes place. A pumpkin is turned into a carriage. Cinderella’s mice friends become horses to pull her coach, and Bruno the dog becomes a footman. But Walt loved the animation sequence that turned Cinderella’s threadbare rags into a beautiful sparkling ballgown. In fact, it was one of his most favorite animated sequences in all of his films.
Cinderella seems to love it too.
Lucifer the cat was inspired by a cat owned by one of the animators.
Ward Kimball was one of Walt Disney’s animators from 1934 to 1972 and one of Disney’s Nine Old Men. Alongside the other 8 “old men,” Kimball was honored with the title of Disney Legend in 1989.
Throughout his career, Kimball was responsible for the creation of dozens of Disney’s most beloved characters. It has even been said that Jiminy Cricket, which was designed by Kimball, actually resembles the animator. For Cinderella, Kimball created the characters of Jaq, Gus, The Mice, and Bruno the dog.
Kimball also created Lady Tremaine’s cat Lucifer. But the secret lies in the inspiration for the feisty feline. Lucifer was inspired by Kimball’s own cat named Feetsy. One day, when Walt Disney was visiting Kimball, Feetsy wouldn’t leave the pair of animators alone. This led Walt to ask Kimball to create Lucifer after Kimball’s very own calico cat.
“Cinderella” saved Walt Disney from bankruptcy.
If there’s an award for the most “try-try-againest” entrepreneur on earth, it would have to go to Walt Disney himself. He didn’t become successful because of unlimited funding. He became successful because he never gave up. Walt faced multiple hardships and failures as he began his career.
Walt sunk everything he had to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. If it had flopped, we might never have had a “Disney” to love at all. It was very well received at the box office, but even with its success, Walt Disney Pictures had more than $4 million in debt. Because of this, Walt’s studio had to produce another homerun film. Otherwise, Disney would go under.
The studio had very little money with which to work, but Walt put together a stellar team of animators–all of whom most likely knew that producing a flop meant they’d be out of work. But as Disney magic would have it, Cinderella was a giant success and is still revered as one of the best animated films of all time.
In an effort to save money, the whole film was shot in live-action first.
Though Walt Disney was not a fan of remakes and sequels, leading us to believe he’d be opposed to the influx of live-action Disney films today, he certainly was not opposed to the idea of live-action films themselves.
Walt Disney Pictures produced many live-action feature films, as well as live-action documentaries (including one that proved extremely problematic). And in an effort to keep costs as low as possible when creating Cinderella, Walt called for the entire film to first be shot in live action.
According to ScreenRant, the process helped keep costs lower by shortening the time it would take animators to draw every part of the film. Cinderella was first shot in live action so that animators didn’t have to spend lots of time daydreaming about what a character and his or her actions and mannerisms might look like:
“Without the fancy budget, Walt Disney Productions didn’t have the resources to have animators take their time and get creative with “Cinderella.” To save money, the studio shot the entire movie in live-action so that the animators could copy the actors’ movements and mannerisms.”
There’s even a hidden Mickey in the film.
Walt Disney once said that he hoped we would “never lose sight of one thing,” and that was that the entire Disney empire and experience began “with a mouse.” To that end, Walt encouraged his animators to add Mickey to their projects. We know those little additions today as “hidden Mickeys.”
The silhouette of Mickey’s head can be found in many Disney films.
And the same is true of Cinderella, in which fans can spy a hidden Mickey Mickey in the bubbles as Cinderella scrubs the floors at home. There’s also a hidden Mickey on the wedding carriage when the prince and Cinderella ride away after their wedding. (Do you see it?)
Disney’s Cinderella remains one of the most beloved and watched Disney classics of all time. Who knew they were ever on such a tight budget?