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Sleeping Beauty, 1959

A great collection of original production animation cels, original production animation drawings, master production backgrounds, model sheets, and concept paintings for sale from the Walt Disney feature film.

Sleeping Beauty Cel.jpg

 Original hand painted and hand inked production animation cels of Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora set on a lithographic background from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959, Walt Disney Studios; Production numbers lower cel edges; Size - Prince Phillip & Princess Aurora: 5 1/4 x 3 3/4", Image 11 x 17"; Unframed.

"Sleeping Beauty" is a Walt Disney animated full length feature film and was based on "The Sleeping Beauty" by Charles Perrault and "Little Briar Rose" by The Brothers Grimm. The film was the sixteenth in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, and it was released to theaters on January 29, 1959 by Buena Vista Distribution. This was to be the last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale for many years, both because of its initial mixed critical reception, and 

because of its initial mixed critical reception, and because of it's under performance at the box office. The Walt Disney studio did not return to the fairy tale genre until 30 years later, with the release of "The Little Mermaid" in 1989.

The film was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi. The story was written by Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, and Milt Banta. The film's musical score and songs, featuring the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, was under the direction of George Bruns. Arrangements and/or adaptations were derived from numbers from the 1890 "Sleeping Beauty Ballet" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In addition, Igor Stravinsky's music compositions were also adapted into the film. "Sleeping Beauty" was the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated feature film to be filmed in anamorphic widescreen; following "Lady and the Tramp" four years earlier. In select first-run engagements, the film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound.

"Sleeping Beauty" introduced two characters that would become universal favorites; Maleficent and Princess Aurora. Aurora, along with Snow White and Cinderella would be forever immortalized in the public's view as the three greatest Disney Princesses. The original design for Aurora was developed by Tom Oreb, who based the character on the famed Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn; known for her thin frame and a very graceful demeanor. Marc Davis, the head animator for Aurora, would continue the development of the character by morphing her general appearance and the clothing of the heroine. The fine tuning of the character continued so that she could be combined with the very angular forms present in the Eyvind Earle hand painted backgrounds.

As with other Disney films, an actress was hired as a live-action model (as a guide for the animators) for Princess Aurora. Helene Stanley, who was also the model for Cinderella in 1950, became the model for the heroine. It is interesting to note that prior to marrying Marc Davis in 1956, Alice (Davis) designed some of costumes worn by Stanley in her acting role as Aurora.

In 1952, the professional opera singer Mary Costa, after meeting people at a party with her future husband director Frank Tashlin, auditioned for the part of Disney's Princess Aurora. Walt Disney called her personally within hours of the audition to inform her that the part was hers. The success of the film "Sleeping Beauty," owes many of those accolades to the voice of Mary Costa. Her songs were some of the most beautiful ever sung by a Disney Princess. In November 1999 Mary Costa received the Disney Legends Award, and her hand prints are now a permanent part of the Disney Legends Plaza at the entrance to Walt Disney Studios.


The majority of the film does not have Aurora on the big screen, but rather her disguised form Briar Rose. Even though Princess Aurora is one of the most loved of all the Disney Princesses, she has least amount of screen time of any prior Princess; only 18 minutes to be exact and during those 18 minutes she only has 18 lines.

Prince Phillip was animated by Milt Kahl and voiced Bill Shirley and Aurora was animated by Marc Davis (who was also lead animator for Maleficent) and voiced by Mary Costa. Both Bill and Mary would be live action models for Prince Phillip and Briar Rose/Princess Aurora for the animators, and their chemistry was magical on screen. In addition, their singing together was one of the many highlights of the film. As discussed by Andreas Deja, Milt Kahl did not like the job of animating Prince Phillip: "Some of you might know that Milt absolutely despised working on the prince. During one of our get togethers I asked him, how he could do such a beautiful job on a character he loathes. To my best recollection he said: 'Well, the character needs to be in the picture, I didn't like the assignment, but you do the best you can.'"

The animation of Prince Phillip by Milt Kahl was radically different than prior Princes in other films.  Phillip was an active character; speaking to his horse Sampson and Sampson understanding what he was saying.  Phillip was also seen as a child at the start of the film, had to be animated in more than one outfit, was the first Prince to use weapons against a Villain; and had to speak, interact, and sing with his love interest Princess Aurora/Briar Rose.

Also from Andreas Deja:
"As I mentioned before, Milt Kahl really didn't enjoy animating Prince Phillip. A handsome dude with a limited range for acting just didn't appeal to him. Of course he still gave it all he'd got to put a descent performance on the screen. (In reference to viewing some of Kahl's rough drawings)... It looks to me that this scene was somewhat based on live action reference, but the translation into drawn animation is incredible. Just dealing with the horse turning direction would be a real challenge. Assistant artist Dave Suding, who worked on the film, told me once that one clean up drawing with the prince on his horse took one full day. That means a second of final clean up footage would require a whole month! Incredible."

When the Walt Disney Company began to promote the theme of Princesses to the public, it was the Princess Aurora character dressed in either the blue or pink dress, that was the preferred form. For animation collectors, the opportunities to acquire cels or drawings of Princess Aurora are few and far between; let alone with Prince Phillip. These cels however, represent one of the greatest setups I have ever seen. Both Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora's are eyes open and they are full figure walking arm in arm towards their parents. They soon end up dancing on the floor of King Stephen's castle and fade into the clouds for the film's stunning finale. This would be a spectacular addition to any high end Walt Disney animation art collection!

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