After releasing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney moved Pinocchio’s production to the front of the line (ahead of Dumbo and Bambi) and got to work. The talented crew pulled together and created an absolutely gorgeous film, unlike anything the world had ever seen. To celebrate Disney’s incredible achievement in animation, we’ve compiled a list of exciting facts—no strings attached. Read up and then relive Pinocchio, available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD, and Disney Movies Anywhere.
1. Figaro was Walt’s favorite character.
Of all of the characters in Pinocchio, Figaro was Walt’s favorite. He loved him so much that he pushed for the adorable kitten to appear in the film as much as possible. Once production was over, he decided to make Figaro a companion for Minnie Mouse, replacing her cocker spaniel.
2. It took a long time to get Pinocchio’s look just right.
In the film’s earlier stages, animators struggled with making Pinocchio cute enough. It took 12 artists about 18 months to nail the look Walt had in mind. Animator Milt Kahl was the one who made the suggestion to first make him in the image of a human boy, and then add puppet-like joints and screws to the design.
3. Thurl Ravenscroft is the voice of Monstro.
Actor Thurl Ravenscroft—who is famous for voicing characters such as Tony the Tiger, Captain (from 101 Dalmatians), the Russian Cat (from The Aristocats), and one of the grim and grinning ghosts in the Haunted Mansion—is responsible for the sounds that Monstro the whale makes. Additionally, he and his group, Mellomen, recorded a song titled “Honest John,” which was later cut from the film.
4. The lead animator behind Figaro based his appearance and personality traits on that of a spoiled kid.
Though Figaro looks like an ordinary house cat, animator Eric Larson decided to infuse his design with the personality traits of a spoiled child. The best example of this characterization is when Geppetto tells him to leave his dinner alone until Pinocchio gets home.
5. Christian Rub both voiced and inspired Geppetto’s look.
Prior to Christian Rub being cast as the voice of Geppetto, animators weren’t sure what they wanted the character to look like. But, once the actor signed on, they decided to use him as a live-action reference model.
6. Animators used the rotoscoping technique during production.
To perfect Jiminy Cricket’s human-like movement, filmmakers brought in an actor named Val Stanton and recorded him moving around on stage. Afterwards, they used a technique called rotoscoping to trace over frames from the clip, which they used as inspiration for Jiminy’s animation.
7. Prop versions of the film’s cuckoo clocks were crafted during production.
To get the look and feel of the cuckoo clocks right, the crew made prop versions that actually worked. They studied the movement and incorporated it into their drawings. They also created a full model of Stromboli’s train, and ran it down a track.
8. Pinocchio won two Academy Awards.
In fact, it holds the distinct honor of being the first Disney film to win an Oscar for both musical categories: Best Score, and Best Song (for “When You Wish Upon a Star”). The dual win wouldn’t be received by the studio again until Mary Poppins in 1965.
9. Pinocchio was the first animated film to feature famous voice actors.
Dickie Jones (Pinocchio), Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket), Christian Rub (Geppetto), and Charles Judels (Stromboli, carriage driver) were all household names when Pinocchio came out.
10. The water effects inspired another famous Disney movie.
When John Musker and Ron Clements were working on the underwater effects in The Little Mermaid, they used the Monstro scenes from Pinocchio as a reference.
Did you already know any of these facts? Let us know in the comments below!