ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Our favorite Disney heroes and heroines draw influences from sources as diverse as ancient pottery and glittering drag queens, so it's only natural to learn a lot of characters were given some of their irresistible charisma by adding a pinch of star power to the mix.

Below are some of the celebrities who have lent their looks, mannerisms, triumphs and failures to Disney characters - but can you see the resemblance?

11. Aladdin Was Inspired by Tom Cruise

Disney animators initially used Michael J. Fox’s character, Marty McFly, from Back to the Future as inspiration for the roguish street rat, but the animators felt like he needed to look a little more grown up and suave to appeal as a romantic lead.

A young Tom Cruise was selected as an appropriately sleek and mature looking teen heartthrob and his face was adopted by supervising animator Glen Keane as the main model for Aladdin's looks.

10. Donald Duck Was Inspired by Donald Bradman

Donald Duck was probably inspired by Aussie cricket legend, Donald Bradman. At the same time as Walt Disney was striving to create a companion for Mickey Mouse, Bradman was touring North America with the Australian team where he was dismissed as being a "duck" for his poor performance.

Legend has it that Disney was perusing the local papers when he saw the headlines and had the brainwave of creating a duck named after the cricket star, and the rest is history.

9. Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians Was Inspired by Tallulah Bankhead

Character actress Mary Wickes was used to help draw Cruella de Vil's wiry frame, but the original concept for her outlandish style and outrageous personality reportedly came from the legendary actress and renowned diva, Tallulah Bankhead.

Bankhead was well known in Hollywood during her long career for speeding around town in her Bentley, her incessant smoking and her deep, gravelly voice. It is popularly believed that head animator Marc Davis used her as his main inspiration for Cruella.

8. Ursula from The Little Mermaid Was Inspired by Divine

Ursula's physical appearance was based on the legendary drag performer Divine and it's easy to see the striking similarities between these two sultry femme fatales.

7. Gideon from Pinocchio Was Inspired by Harpo Marx

Pinocchio's Gideon was originally voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc (responsible for the voices of Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker and just about any Loony Tunes character you can name), but all of his lines were erased in favor of making the villain a mute character. This decision is said to be inspired by the silent member of the Marx Brothers, Harpo Marx.

Although most of Blanc's lines were deleted from the script, three hiccups voiced by the actor remained in Pinocchio and he often quipped that they were the most expensive sounds ever recorded.

6. Ariel from The Little Mermaid Was Inspired by Alyssa Milano

Although she didn't know much about it at the time, Alyssa Milano was the main inspiration for Ariel's face in The Little Mermaid. In an interview with the The Wendy Williams Show in 2013, Alyssa Milano was asked if she was the model for Ariel and she replied:

I actually was, yeah! Which I didn't know when it was going on! I didn't know that when it was going on. But they asked me to host 'The Making of "The Little Mermaid,"and it came out there that the drawing and likeness of the little mermaid was based on pictures of me from when I was younger

Milano may have been the main inspiration for Ariel's face, but Sherri Stoner was brought in to give Disney artists a reference for the character's movements, so Ariel is an amalgamation of influences, like most Disney characters.

5. Chernabog from Fantasia Was Inspired by Bela Lugosi

Chernabog of Fantasia fame was inspired by Bela Lugosi, the Hungarian-American actor famous for portraying Count Dracula in the original 1931 film.

4. Mulan Was Inspired by Gong Li

Mulan was reportedly based on the Chinese actress Gong Li and it's hard not to see a resemblance between the rose-bud lips and adorable button nose they both share.

3. The Vultures from The jungle Book Were Inspired by The Beatles

The vultures in The Jungle Book were originally designed with The Beatles in mind to voice them, but John Lennon vetoed the idea, and told Epstein to tell Disney he should hire Elvis Presley instead.

Although The Beatles never made it to the Disney recording studio, the vulture's Liverpudlian accents and haircuts are still clearly a homage to the iconic band, despite the fact they were voiced by other actors.

2. The Wicked Queen from Snow White Was Inspired by Joan Crawford

Snow White's Evil Queen was mainly based on papier mache masks by Art Deco illustrator Vladislav Theodor Benda, but her lips and eyes were also influenced by the Hollywood legend Joan Crawford's distinctive, regal features.

1. Hercules Was Inspired by Robert Gant

Hercules' angular features and curly mop were based on the actor Robert Gant, who is best known for his role as Ben Bruckner in the groundbreaking Queer as Folk.

(Source: Disney Wikia, The Chive, Bustle, Wikipedia, Viral Nova and The Independent, Yahoo)


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