The Actress who Inspired Disney’s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty

Liz Jin
History of Women
Published in
4 min readApr 19, 2023

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Amusingly, one critic complained that the animated Cinderella was too “voluptuous”

Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were modeled after actress Helene Stanley; image source.

I know you

I walked with you once upon a dream

I know you

The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam

I can’t remember how many times I twirled around my living room as a little girl while listening to this song and pretending to be Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.

In this iconic scene, Aurora sings to her woodland forest friends, sharing her dreams of finding her true love. Meanwhile, she is blissfully unaware that Prince Phillip is nearby, having been drawn to her lovely voice.

I never considered how Disney’s animators came up with Aurora’s image. I assumed they relied on their imaginations and conjured up a beautiful young woman gracefully waltzing around.

But did you know that Aurora was based on a real person? Actress Helene Stanley was the inspiration behind Aurora, Cinderella, and Anita Radcliffe from 101 Dalmatians.

Before she played a Disney princess, Helene played minor roles in mostly low-budget films.

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Liz Jin
History of Women

“I wake up in the morning with a desire to both save the world and savor the world. That makes it hard to plan my day.”