Historia/REX/Shutterstock Once there was a hardworking girl with a a heart of gold and a wicked stepmother. She got a makeover from a fairy godmother and scored a dream date at the ball with a prince who tracked her down by her single lost glass slipper… and this story crossed the globe for thousands of years, winning hearts wherever it went. Although our version of “Cinderella” was recorded by 17th-century French writer Charles Perrault, according to the well-respected scholarly website Sur La Lune Fairy Tales, there may be as many as 1,500 traditional variants of the tale around the world, including “The Girl with the Rose Red Slippers” from ancient Egypt, and a ninth-century A.D. Chinese version that just might explain the story’s fascination with small feet.
This is the fantasy that just won’t quit. Apparently “the Cinderella area of [Sur La Lune] receives over twice as many visitors as any other tale” every day, and the story has inspired countless modern retellings including Walt Disney’s iconic 1950 cartoon, the blockbuster film Pretty Woman, the novel and movie Ella Enchanted, which reimagines its dutiful heroine with a curse that makes her obey, and too many others to name. Some even see the familiar fairy tale in the current furor around Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry. Check out these 15 surprising facts about Disney characters.
Beauty and the Beast
Historia/REX/Shutterstock No plot could be more romantic than this one: A kind and virtuous Beauty offers herself as a hostage to free her father from the castle of a fearsome Beast. When she falls in love with the Beast despite his outward appearance, he’s transformed into a handsome Prince. Who among us has not felt unworthy of a lover yet longed to have our inner value recognized? Who has not dreamed of romantic love with the power to redeem and transform? No wonder “Beauty and the Beast,” originally a French story, is the second most frequently visited story on Sur La Lune Fairy Tales.
Of all the many retellings, our favorite is probably French director Jean Cocteau’s surreal 1945 film version La Belle et la Bête, but the Disney version is certainly the most prevalent (and lucrative). So far “Beauty and the Beast” has rung the company’s cash register as a cartoon, a Broadway musical, a soundtrack album, and, most recently, a live-action film with Emma Watson. It’s also spawned innumerable related merchandise items such as Disney’s Enchanted Rose Jewelry Box, princess-pink sheet sets from Target emblazoned with the motto “Beauty is Found Within,” and ornately cut gold foil B&B-inspired wedding invitations from an Etsy store called Shimmering Ceremony. Did you know that you can even buy Disney wedding gowns?