May15 , 2024

12 Cartoon Characters Who Have Real-Life Prototypes


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It’s no secret that creators of movie and cartoon characters like giving them features of actual people. Sometimes even character traits are transferred to the screen.

Mumy Bear found 12 similarities between cartoon characters and real people that turned out to be no accident.

Montgomery Burns — Baron Jacob Rothschild

The incredibly rich Mr. Burns from The Simpsons is the embodiment of several wealthy people combined. The list includes Norwegian businessmen Olav Thon and Fredrik Olsen, the first dollar billionaire John Rockefeller, and Baron Jacob Rothschild, the latter bearing the strongest resemblance in appearance to Monty Burns.

Ursula — actor Harris Glenn Milstead (Divine)

The prototype for evil sorceress Ursula from The Little Mermaid was American actor Harris Glenn Milstead or, more precisely, his scenic character: a flamboyant lady named Divine.

Ariel — actress Alyssa Milano

Early sketches of Ariel were inspired by the wife of animator Glen Keane. However, the final version was based on Alyssa Milano who was 16 when the cartoon aired — just like Ariel herself.

Shrek — wrestler Maurice Tillet

Maurice “The French Angel” Tillet, a French wrestler of Russian origin, is believed to have inspired the animators at Dreamworks to create Shrek. In his childhood, Maurice was a real angel (for which he received his ring name afterward), but he was diagnosed with acromegaly at the age of 19: his bones were growing very fast and large. The condition changed Maurice’s features a lot, but he joked about the problem and even posed at a museum next to statues of the Neanderthals.

Betty Boop — Helen Kane

American singer and musician Helen Kane became the prototype for carefree and pretty Betty Boop. The creators of the cartoon hadn’t asked Helen before using her image, and it all ended with a lawsuit — a lost one. The court regulated that, despite the obvious resemblance between Betty Boop and Helen, the image of the singer and her manner of singing weren’t original.

Snow White — actress Marge Champion

Actress and choreographer Marge Champion gave Snow White not only her features but her movements as well. During the first few decades of their existence, animated cartoons widely used rotoscoping: actors’ movements were captured on film and then animated. The actress had to wear a baseball helmet because Snow White’s head was a bit larger than a regular human’s.

Aladdin — actor Tom Cruise

Aladdin was originally thought to resemble another actor, Michael J. Fox, but then the choice fell on Tom Cruise. Incidentally, the animation of Aladdin’s pants was “inspired” by the famous broad pants of MC Hammer.

Edna Mode — costume designer Edith Head

Fashion designer Edna Mode from The Incredibles was based on Edith Head, a costume designer with 8 Oscars — that’s more than any other woman has.

Maleficent — actress Eleanor Audley

This one’s another cartoon where rotoscoping technology was used. Radio actress Eleanor Audley had to wear the same hat as Maleficent, whom she voiced. Eleanor’s voice and facial features were also used to create another cartoon villain: Lady Tremaine, the wicked stepmother from Cinderella.

Genie — actor Robin Williams

Ron Clements and John Musker had seen this character with the face of Robin Williams and no other, so they gave the animator the task of creating Genie with a humorous streak — and that was a precise shot.

WALL-E — director Woody Allen

Despite being a robot, WALL-E’s prototypes were actual people: comedy actors Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati and movie director Woody Allen.


Boo from Monsters, Inc.

This absolutely adorable girl is not actually a prototype of Mary from Monsters, Inc. But she looks so alike that you may probably think she’s her human twin.

Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit