Ten Things You May Not Know About Sleeping Beauty
1. The story of Sleeping Beauty was based on the fairy tale “La Belle Au Bois Dormant,” published in 1697 by Charles Perrault. This tale also served as the inspiration for the Brothers Grimm tale, The Briar Rose, published in 1812. The 1890 ballet Sleeping Beauty, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, provided the inspiration for much of the music in Disney’s 1959 film.
2. One of the princess’s most notable claims to fame is the many names she is known by. Her actual name is Princess Aurora, but was given the name Briar Rose when she was living in hiding with the good fairies. Oddly enough, she was unnamed in Perrault’s original tale, but did have a daughter named Aurore. The name Briar Rose was given to her by the Brothers Grimm. Confused? Then it won’t help you to know that Perrault’s tale was itself inspired by a 1634 story called Sun, Moon, and Talia; Talia being the name of the princess.
3. Because of all these name variations, Princess Aurora has the distinction of being the first Disney Princess to have a name that’s different from the title of her film.
4. Princess Aurora was voiced by Mary Costa, who was invited to audition for the part after running into Walter Schumann (the film’s original composer) at a dinner party. At her audition, she originally sang with her native southern accent, but was advised to use an English accent instead. Her performance was so compelling that Walt Disney told her she had landed the role the next day.
5. The original design for Aurora’s animated persona was developed by Tom Oreb, who based his design on Audrey Hepburn. Later, Marc Davis and his wife Alice refined her look and costumes to better match the style of the film’s backgrounds, which were much more realistic than any previous Disney film.
6. Unfortunately, the intricate details and artistic depth of the backgrounds, created by Eyvind Earle, made the character a challenge to animate. The animators found it restrictive to match the rigid designs of Earle’s backgrounds, which they regarded as too cold, too flat, and too modernist. Nevertheless, the animators pressed on, though they were so cautions that they would sometimes only produce one drawing a day, which translated to one second of screen time per month.
7. As with Cinderella, actress Helene Stanley was filmed playing the role of Sleeping Beauty to provide a live-action reference for the animators. Walt Disney wanted the characters in Sleeping Beauty to appear as real as possible, but that caused a bit of dissension with the animators. Milt Kahl (directing animator for Prince Phillip) referred to the process as “a crutch, a stifling of the creative effort. Anyone worth his salt in this business ought to know how people move!”
8. Aurora has made many appearances over the years, most notably in the film Maleficent, where she was portrayed by Elle Fanning opposite Angelina Jolie’s title role. Aurora also appeared in the ABC television series, Once Upon a Time, where she was played by Sarah Bolger in the second, third, and fourth seasons.
9. Despite all of her appearances, Aurora has the least amount of screen time of all the Disney Princesses in their original films. Her grand total of screen time? 18 minutes.
10. Coincidentally, that matches the number of lines she has in the film, 18, which makes her the quietest of all the Disney Princesses. (In fact, she doesn’t speak at all in the second half of the film, even after she’s reawaken.) But she’s not the quietest title character in Disney film history; that honor goes to Dumbo, who had no dialog at all!