CLOSE
Original image
Disney Princess Wiki

The Faces Behind Disney's Princesses

Original image
Disney Princess Wiki

The women who gave voice to your favorite princesses, from Snow White to Rapunzel.

1. Snow White

Last.fm/DisneyBlog

For her role as the sweetly-singing Snow White, 19-year-old actress Adriana Caselotti was paid just $20 for each day of work—a total of $970. She also signed a contract with Disney, which prevented her from working elsewhere. He didn’t want her distinct voice to appear in another work and tarnish his pristine princess. She still managed to land a few bit parts, including the line “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” in the Tin Man's song “If I Only Had a Heart” in The Wizard of Oz. She remained loyal to Snow White until the day she died in 1997: Caselotti’s house in L.A. resembled a certain woodland cottage, including a wishing well in the front yard.

2. Cinderella

FindaGrave/Disney.com

Like Caselotti, Ilene Woods’ post-princess career seems to have been rather limited. In 1963, she married Ed Shaughnessy, the drummer on The Tonight Show. She sued Disney in 1988, claiming that the $2500 she was paid to record the voice of Cinderella in 1948 didn’t include rights to distribute that voice on VHS. She asked for $20 million, and though Woods' case seems to have been settled out of court, Peggy Lee won a similar lawsuit for $3.83 million in 1991.

Perhaps surprisingly, Woods had a pretty modern view of the princess she gave a voice to: “I don’t think she needed the prince,” she once said. “I think she wanted to go to the ball and that was it at the moment. Then the prince wanted her and vice versa.”

3. Sleeping Beauty

D23.com/Disney.com

After 22-year-old Mary Costa voiced Princess Aurora/Briar Rose in 1952 (though the movie wasn’t released until 1959), she went on to perform in more than 40 operas across the world. In 1991, she, too, sued Disney over the VHS issue. They settled out of court, and apparently no grudges were held: At the age of 83, Costa is still doing promotional appearances for Disney.

4. Ariel

Getty Images/Disney.com

Jodi Benson voices not one, but two popular Disney characters: everyone’s favorite flighty mermaid, of course, but also Ken’s better half in the Toy Story movies—Barbie. And Benson’s work doesn’t stop at the House of Mouse. She’s done voice work for The Powerpuff Girls, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, The Little Engine That Could, Camp Lazlo, and Batman Beyond, among others.

5. Belle


Getty Images/Disney.com

Can you imagine the well-read girl leading the quiet French provincial life singing about her waning sex drive? Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. Head to Vegas and see it for yourself. Paige O’Hara is currently in performing at the Luxor as the Soap Star in the Broadway show Menopause the Musical.

Though O’Hara is no longer providing the voice for Belle—“They did a one-fell-swoop of all of the older actresses and decided to replace all of us,” she said—she’s still very much attached to the role, painting scenes from her most famous movie and selling them through DisneyFineArt.com.

6. Jasmine

Getty Images/Disney.com


Jasmine’s speaking voice, Linda Larkin, continues to get most of her work from speaking for the Princess of Agrabah. She does occasionally pop up elsewhere, though—you can currently find her as Violet in Grand Theft Auto V.

Since she gave Jasmine and Mulan their sweet singing voices in the 1990s, Lea Salonga has performed in a number of musicals, including separate stints as Eponine and Fantine in Les Miserables on Broadway. She has also released several albums that have been internationally successful.

7. Merida

Getty Images/Disney.com

Boardwalk Empire fans know Kelly MacDonald as Margaret Schroeder Thompson, Nucky’s long-suffering wife. She also played Dolly in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina last year.

8. Tiana

Getty Images/Disney.com

The casting directors of Private Practice might have a thing for princesses, because they’ve also hired Anika Noni Rose, the singing and speaking voice of Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. Rose has also appeared on The Good Wife, Elementary, and The Simpsons.

9. Rapunzel

Getty Images/Disney.com

Mandy Moore was a big name long before Tangled took the pink aisle at Target by storm, and she’s still acting and singing. She stars in the CBS drama The Advocates, scheduled to premiere next month, and will also voice the title character in a Disney Junior “animated western” called Oki’s Oasis.

10. Pocahontas

Getty Images/Disney.com

Since serving as the speaking voice and physical model for Pocahontas, Irene Bedard has been in a number of movie and television roles, both onscreen and as a voice actor. In fact, she appeared as Pocahontas’ mother in Terrence Malick’s The New World in 2005.

The Powhatan princess’ singing voice was provided by Judy Kuhn, a Broadway actress famous for playing Cosette in Les Miserables and Florence Vassy in Chess. Post-Pocahontas, Kuhn continued performing in musicals from Funny Girl to Passion. In 2007, she joined the cast of Les Miserables again, this time playing Fantine. Interestingly, she succeeded Lea Salonga in the role. Wonder if they ever crossed paths and discussed their princess pasts.

11. Mulan

Getty Images/Disney.com

You already know what Mulan’s singing voice, Lea Salonga, has been up to. But her speaking voice, Ming-Na Wen, has also been pretty busy, with roles on Two and a Half Men, Eureka, Private Practice and Boston Legal. You can see her as Agent Melinda May on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Original image
Getty Images
arrow
entertainment
The Time That Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Opened Competing Restaurants on the Sunset Strip
Original image
Getty Images

From 1946 to 1956, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were show business supernovas. With an act that combined singing, slapstick, and spontaneous hijinks, the duo sold out nightclubs coast to coast, then went on to conquer radio, television, and film. Long before Elvis and The Beatles came along, Dean and Jerry  were rock stars of comedy.

Offstage, there was a cordial but cool friendship between the laidback Martin and the more neurotic Lewis. But as the pressures of their success increased, so did the tensions between them. Martin grew tired of playing the bland romantic straight man to Lewis’s manic monkey boy. And when Lewis started to grab more headlines and write himself bigger parts in their movies, Martin decided to quit the act. In an angry moment, he told Lewis that he was “nothing to me but a f**king dollar sign.”

After the split, both men went on with their individual careers, though it took Martin a few years before he regained his footing. One of his ventures during that transitional period was a Hollywood eatery called Dino’s Lodge.

DINO'S LODGE

In the summer of 1958, Martin and his business partner, Maury Samuels, bought a controlling interest in a restaurant called The Alpine Lodge, at 8524 Sunset Boulevard. They hired Dean’s brother Bill to manage the place, and renamed it Dino’s Lodge.

Outside they put up a large neon sign, a likeness of Dean’s face. The sign turned into a national symbol of hip and cool, thanks to appearances on TV shows like Dragnet, The Andy Griffith Show, and most prominently, in the opening credits of 77 Sunset Strip.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dino’s Lodge was popular from the get-go, serving home-style Italian food and steaks in an intimate, candlelit, wood-paneled room meant to replicate Martin’s own den. In the first year, Dean himself frequented the place, signing autographs and posing for photos with starstruck diners. He also occasionally brought along famous friends like Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine. To promote the idea of the swingin’ lifestyle that Martin often sang about, Dino’s served “an early morning breakfast from 1 to 5 a.m.” The restaurant also had a lounge that featured singers, though only females. Dean apparently didn’t want any male vocalists encroaching on his turf.

But as with many a celebrity venture into the food business, this one soon turned sour. And most of that was due to the jealousy of Jerry Lewis.

JERRY'S

In late 1961, Lewis wooed Martin’s business partner Maury Samuels away, ponied up some $350,000, and opened his own copycat restaurant three blocks down Sunset. It was called Jerry’s. To make it clear he was out for top billing, Lewis had his own likeness rendered in neon, then mounted it on a revolving pole 100 feet above his restaurant. In contrast to Dino’s Italian-based menu, Jerry’s would serve “American and Hebrew viands.” Lewis didn’t stop there. Within a few months, he’d hired away Dino’s top two chefs, his maître d', and half his waitstaff.

Wire Photo, eBay, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

When Lewis was in Los Angeles, he made of point of table-hopping and schmoozing with his guests at his restaurant, and he occasionally brought in a few of his celebrity friends, like Peggy Lee and Steve McQueen.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

By the following year, a disgusted Dean Martin was fed up with the restaurant business and cut ties with Dino’s Lodge. Much to his aggravation, he lost a motion in court to have his likeness and name removed from the sign. So the new owners carried on as Dino’s Lodge, with the big neon head staring down on Sunset for another decade before the place finally went bust.

Jerry’s lost steam long before that, folding in the mid-1960s.

For the rest of the 1960s and the early 1970s, Martin and Lewis avoided each other. “Jerry’s trying hard to be a director,” Dean once told a reporter. “He couldn’t even direct traffic.”

In 1976, Frank Sinatra famously engineered an onstage reunion of the pair during The Jerry Lewis Telethon. While the audience roared their approval, Sinatra said, “I think it’s about time, don’t you?” And to Sinatra, Lewis said under his breath, “You son of a bitch.”

What followed was an awkward few moments of shtick between the former partners. Reportedly, Martin was drunk and Lewis was doped up on painkillers. There was a quick embrace, Martin sang with Sinatra, then blew Lewis a kiss and disappeared from his life for good. Martin died in 1995. Lewis passed away today, at the age of 91.

Original image
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images
arrow
entertainment
10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers
Original image
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.

In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”

3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.

Michael Ochs Archives/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.

4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.

Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”

5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.

Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.

6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.

World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually broke away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.

7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.

Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.

8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.

With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”

9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.

10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.

Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying, “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios