Disney’s 1950 Cinderella Was Modeled After Live Action Filming


“…Walt Disney decided  to shoot as much of the film [1950 Cinderella] in live action as possible, and then use the resulting footage as a guide for the animators.  They Disney artists had shot reference footage for earlier films, beginning with Snow White.  Teenage dancer Marge Belcher (the futre Broadway star Marge Champion) enacted many of the title character’s movements.” [for Snow White] Solomon, A Wish Your Heart Makes, p. 40

Marge Belcher as Snow White



“Actors wearing wigs and costumes were filmed on minimal stages ad platforms that represented locations in the film.  Helene Stanley portrayed Cinderella.”  Solomon, A Wish Your Heart Makes, pgs. 40 – 41.

Helene Stanley Hair Studies

“Eleanor Audley, who provided the voice for the stepmother and enacted the character, recalled with grim humor, ‘I’ll never forget those stairs in Cinderella, when I had the key.  I’m not kidding about being up in the rafters.  I think they were two platforms, and they had steps up to God himself.  I’m sure if I had said ‘God’ up thre, He would have answered me.” Solomon, A Wish Your Heart Makes, pgs. 40 – 41.

audley eleanoraudley

“The extensive live-action footage proved helpful–and educational.  As the artists studied the printed photostats of the individual frames, they discovered that human movements were much more complicated and subtle than they had realized.  The reference footage enabled them to discern tiny changes in the position of an eyebrow or the corner of a mouth, or how a person may unconsciously shift her weight from one foot to another.” Solomon, A Wish Your Heart Makes, p. 41.

_CinderellaFotos22adj   CinderellaFotos23adj

CinderellaFotos26adj _CinderellaFotos27adj

How they studied the mice:



waking 5

 Eric Larson

“The opening sequence of Cinderella waking up, greeting the mice and birds, and preparing for another day of dreary chores immediately established her as an endearing and sympathetic figure.  Eric Larson animated the sequence, although the drawings had to be adjusted when [Marc] Davis made the cahracter a little older and more graceful–what Larson later called ‘mre the exotic dame’

“Marc Davis had a big influence on Cinderella’s appearance, and all the people who worked on her drew a lot better than fifteen ears earlier on Snow White, comment Frank Thomas, ‘Marc insisted that everything be related mechanically, so for her head to be okay the chin, the cheeks, all her had to be in place’

“Veteran Disney story man Burney Mattison, who worked with both Larson and Davis, comments, ‘Eric wasn’t the draftsman Marc was, but the scenes of Cinderella when she wakes up and the birds sing with her were all Eric’s  It’s some of the loveliest animation of the girl in the picture.  Eric had great feeling in his drawing.

“In those opening minutes, Cinderella shows a sense of mischief and an emotional complexity many animated heroines lack. [p. 44]


“She walks her fingers along the edge of the bed and gives one of the little birds a little boot in the rear for waking her.  And when the clock strikes, sounding the time for her to begin her chores, she gestures impatiently saying, ‘Even he orders me around.’  Throughout the film, she displays an emotional depth neither Snow White nor Princess Aurora can match. …

“Reflecting on his own work, which inclueds the animation of Jasmine in Aladdin and Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, Mark Henn notes, ‘People ask me what made our generation’s Princesses different from the earlier generation’s  Our stories got a lot more complicated, and our girls wee more integral to propelling the stories along.  Snowwhite is largely reactive; things just kept happening to her.  When things happen to Cinderella, you see a little more what’s going on inside her.’ …”

“Every animator has a favorite moment in which Cinderella displays that depth of personality, and Henn continues, ‘There’s the really great scene when she receives the invitation to the ball, and upstairs the sisters singing and playing the flute.


“She asks Gus and Jaq, ‘Should I interrupt the “music lesson”?’  There’s a level of arcasm you wouldn’t have seen in Snow White or some of the other characters.’ ” Solomon, A Wish Your Heart Makes, pgs. 44, 47.


About jackikellum

Jacki Kellum is a Fine Artist, a Designer, and also a writer. For one of her graduate programs, she wrote her thesis on William Blake. Like Blake, much of Kellum's work is about childhood and lost innocence. Also like Blake, Kellum strives to both write and illustrate her work. .
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