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14 Fun Facts About The Aristocats

Disney Screencaps
Disney Screencaps

The tradition of seeing a movie on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is one that’s been going on for a long time—and that tradition is exactly what Disney was counting on when they released The Aristocats on December 24, 1970. Here are a few facts about everyone's favorite jazzy felines.

1. It was intended as a live-action film.

Originally slated to be a two-part live-action series on The Wonderful World of Disney, Walt himself decided it was a story better told with animation. Sadly, Disney died before he could see it through.

2. It was the first Disney film to be produced after Walt Disney's death.

Though some critics thought the loss of Walt’s direction hurt the movie, The New York Times raved about it, saying, “Bless the Walt Disney organization for The Aristocats, as funny, warm and sweet an animated, cartoon, package as ever gave a movie marquee a Christmas glow.”

3. It was the last film to be approved by Walt Disney directly.

As such, it’s the last movie to end with the line, “A Walt Disney Production.”

4. Six of Disney’s original “Nine Old Men” worked on the film.

This included producer Wolfgang Reitherman, character animator Eric Larson, and directing animators John Lounsbery, Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, and Milt Kahl.

5. Some of Duchess’s dance moves were later reused for Maid Marian’s moves in Robin Hood.

They start at 1:06 below, but the whole thing is worth watching if you haven’t seen it:

6. Louis Armstrong was the intended voice actor for Scat Cat.

But Armstrong fell ill right around the time the studio began recording. So they recruited the appropriately nicknamed Scatman Crothers instead, later known for his roles in The Shining and for voicing Meadowlark Lemon on the animated TV series The Harlem Globetrotters. He also provided the voice for everyone's favorite bumbling canine superhero, Hong-Kong Phooey.

7. Disney Legend Phil Harris is the man behind the voice of Thomas O'Malley.

Harris was also Baloo in The Jungle Book. "I was terribly enthused about doing Aristocats," Harris once said. "I'm just playing myself again. They even let me change some of the lines to make them fit my personality. I think that all the credit goes to the director, producer, and the animators because all we actors do is stand there and deliver the lines and they put the whole thing together."

8. The movie coaxed one legend out of retirement.

Famous French actor and entertainer Maurice Chevalier came out of retirement to sing the theme song for the movie.

9. Eva Gabor was only the speaking voice for Duchess.

All of the singing was done by Robie Lester, who also sang for Gabor’s Bianca in The Rescuers.

10. Edgar originally had a partner-in-crime: a maid named Elvira.

She would have been voiced by Elsa Lanchester, a Mary Poppins alum (she played Katie Nanna). Lanchester was also famous for her role as the Bride of Frankenstein.

11. At one point, there was also a fourth kitten named Waterloo.

He was removed because four kittens felt like too many characters.

12. The version of “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” that was released on the soundtrack has been edited.

The original version contained some now-politically incorrect lyrics from by a Chinese cat named Shun Gon. Check it out at 2:50:

13. In 2003, Disney Channel considered making Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz grow into teenagers for a syndicated show.

The idea was scrapped.

14. The idea of making The Aristocats II in 2005 was also scrapped.

It was supposed to have been like a murderless-Murder on the Orient Express.

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Pop Culture
Rare Disney Artifacts From Early Imagineer Rolly Crump Head to Auction

If you’ve ever marveled at the fantastical facades of Disney’s "It’s a Small World" attraction, you can partly thank Imagineer Rolly Crump. Throughout the 1960s, the animator and designer helped bring to life some of Walt Disney Parks’s most iconic attractions, including the "Enchanted Tiki Room," "Haunted Mansion," and "Adventureland Bazaar."

Later this month, some of his original pieces will go under the hammer at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, California. The most valuable of the 400-plus lots is Crump’s original model for a clock in "It’s a Small World," which could sell for up to $80,000, according to the auction house. The design was mocked up from fellow Disney artist Mary Blair’s original sketch, and the end result is now a permanent fixture of the boat ride attraction.

A few other items up for grabs are a Polynesian-style shield that Crump sculpted for the "Enchanted Tiki Room," an original devil prop from "Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride," an original "Haunted Mansion" poster, and a costumed character head from "Babes in Toyland." A ticket for the grand opening of Disneyland in 1955 is expected to sell for as much as $5000—although unfortunately it won't grant the buyer entry to the park these days.

In addition to pieces created for Disney, the collection also includes Crump’s original artwork, some of which dates back to his high school years. One such illustration of a colorful character wielding a sword and smoking a pipe was entered into a radio contest in 1947 by Crump’s mother, unbeknownst to her son. He didn’t win, but his consolation prize came five years later when he was hired to work at Walt Disney Studios at age 22.

The “Life and Career of Disney Legend Rolly Crump” auction is scheduled for April 28, 2018.

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Disney/Marvel Studios
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Success of Black Panther Inspires Disney to Donate $1 Million to Youth STEM Programs
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Since opening in U.S. theaters on February 16, Blank Panther has already defied industry expectations more than once. The blockbuster now holds the records for biggest February opening, biggest standalone Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and highest-grossing film featuring a black cast. To celebrate the film's groundbreaking success, Disney is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Fortune reports.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programs to young people from low-income households. They offer kids a place to build their athletic, artistic, and leadership skills, but Disney's donation will go specifically toward funding STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The technology of the fictional African nation of Wakanda plays a central role in Black Panther. Shuri, T'Challa's sister and the head of all things tech in the film, has been praised for potentially inspiring young women to take an interest in STEM. "It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film," Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "So it’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America will use Disney's generous donation to help establish STEM Centers of Innovation in cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, where much of the movie was shot, and Oakland, California, the hometown of Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. Ten additional cities, from New Orleans to Chicago, will also be getting STEM centers of their own.

The donation is sure to make a huge impact on communities around the country, but it's just a fraction of what Disney is set to make from the film. According to some projections, it won't be long before film surpasses the $1 billion mark at the global box office.

[h/t Fortune]

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