9 Disney Characters Who Were Actually Based On Famous People

    Alyssa Milano didn't even know that Ariel from The Little Mermaid was modeled after her until a year after the movie was released.

    1. Tom Cruise was the inspiration for Aladdin's appearance after animators decided to abandon their original idea of having him be small and "less heroic-looking."

    Here's a side-by-side comparison of the evolution of Aladdin's appearance after adopting some of Tom Cruise's physical features:

    Side-by-sides of Aladdin's evolution

    2. When creating The Little Mermaid, animators based Ariel's appearance on a young Alyssa Milano...and she didn't even know until a year after the movie was released.

    3. A lot of Tiana's physical features and character in The Princess and the Frog were based on Anika Noni Rose, who voiced and sang for her in the movie.

    4. The vultures in The Jungle Book were inspired by the Beatles. They also almost voiced the characters in the original movie in 1967 and in the remake in 2016.

    5. Jessica Rabbit was inspired by a mixture of several Old Hollywood actors, but mostly Rita Hayworth.

    6. Animators really struggled when trying to come up with the perfect look for Ursula in The Little Mermaid, and they didn't feel satisfied until someone drew a character who was inspired by drag queen Divine.

    And to get Ursula's movements just right, animator Kathy Zielinski rewatched 1950's Sunset Boulevard and studied Gloria Swanson's over-the-top and exaggerated movements as Norma Desmond.

    7. Snow White was modeled after the looks of Hedy Lamarr...and so was Catwoman.

    8. Most of the looks and movements of Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog were based on Michael Jackson and Usher.

    Side-by-sides of Dr. Facilier, Michael Jackson, and Usher

    Smith also said that Dr. Facilier was basically a love child of his two favorite Disney villains: Captain Hook and Cruella de Vil. He sort of meshed them together to help draw inspiration for the character and his appearance.

    Bruce W. Smith animating Dr. Facilier at his art desk

    9. And the Genie from Aladdin was literally created for Robin Williams. They even animated Williams as the character to help convince him to accept the role.