8 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE ORIGINAL MALEFICENT CHARACTER
Now that Maleficent has been released, and the basic character traits of the horned fairy beloved by bad girls and drag queens the world over have been transformed in live action, it's time to look back at the original character portrayed in Disney's classic Sleeping Beauty...
1. SHE WAS A GIRL OF THE 1950s
Although most people think the original Disney film that inspired the new Maleficent feature is recent, actually Sleeping Beauty was released in 1959. The studio worked on it for nearly the entire decade, starting in 1951. They recorded the voice talent in 1952 and spent from 1953 to 1958 on animation.
2. SHE IS RELATED TO TINKER BELL AND BAMBI
Animated by Marc Davis, one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men”, nine famous animators on which Disney depended who created many of the most beloved characters in Disney’s history, Davis worked on not only Bambi and Tinker Bell, he also had a lot to do with the finished look of Snow White, Brer Rabbit, Cinderella, and Cruella De Vil, in effect making them all part of Davis’s artistic family.
3. HER VOICE WILL “HAUNT” YOU
Maleficent’s voice Eleanor Audley is also the voice of Madame Leota in DIsney’s Haunted Mansion. Next time you hear “Rap on a table. It’s time to respond. Send us a message from somewhere beyond!”, you’ll think of her and her voice as the beautiful bad fairy.
4. SHE WAS A HIGH PRIESTESS OF STYLE
Davis was told to deviate from the usual design of witches and hags, so they could differentiate Maleficent from the queen in Snow White. He found reference from his research into medieval art with a woman in black religious garb that was long and flowing, with sleeves cut to resemble flames. He used that design as the basis for Maleficent’s attire, adding a crown that looked like devil horns.
5. SHE WAS A PIECE OF WORK
Sleeping Beauty was Disney’s last hand inked film. Up till 1960, all the cels used to create the cartoon were not only hand painted on the back, but the outline of the characters was inked by hand on the front. That meant that each of the 24 pieces of plastic used per second hand to be outlined one at a time by an ink and paint artist. Maleficent had more colors used on each cel than any other in the history of Disney, and included purples, greens, and many others. It was a painstaking last hurrah, since with 101 Dalmatians, they switched to copying the cels with something called a xerography machine.
6. VIDEO KILLED (AND COPIED) THE RADIO STAR
The voice of Maleficent was Eleanor Audley, who was incredibly popular on the radio in shows like Escape, Suspense, and My Favorite Husband before she did voices for Disney, including Cinderella’s Lady Tremaine. Animator Marc Davis designed both characters to resemble Audley.
7. WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER MAKES HER STRONGER
The popular game series Kingdom Hearts features Maleficent as a major character, and she is defeated several times, only to be resurrected as an even stronger villain.
8. SHE IS A BORN LEADER
With the release of the new movie starring Angelina Jolie, Maleficent is the first Disney villain to star in a feature film.