We’ve seen so many examples of celebrities who have cartoon doppelgangers, whether it be Jessica Rabbit, Snow White, or Papa Smurf. But did you know that some of the most popular characters were actually inspired by famous stars? We kid you not – Katy Perry, Tom Cruise, and Alyssa Milano are just a few celebs that artists drew their influence from while creating their cartoons. And now, we’re starting to wonder how we could’ve missed all the similarities! See which cartoons took their inspiration from real celebrities.
16. Aladdin’s Genie was inspired by Robin Williams
The late Robin Williams wasn’t just the voice actor for the Genie! He was also the inspiration for the character’s looks and bits of his personality were woven into Genie as well. Now that we know that, it seems silly we never realized the comparisons before! It’s safe to say that we essentially watched the animated version of Robin himself in the film. And we loved Genie all the more for it!
15. Aladdin was inspired by Tom Cruise
The character was modeled after a younger version of the Mission Impossible star, but Tom Cruise wasn’t the animators’ first pick. Initially, they wanted to use Michael J. Fox, but they weren’t satisfied with the result. So after they increased Aladdin’s age a bit, they turned to a young Tom, who they considered to be a bit more mature and heroic. The lead animator, Glen Keane, also noted that there was “a confidence with all of his attitudes and his poses,” which was definitely reflected in Aladdin’s depiction!
14. Princess Jasmine was inspired by Jennifer Connelly
If you’re struggling to see the resemblance here, it might be because Jasmine was only partially modeled after the brunette actress. The animator, Mark Henn, wanted to go for a look that was more unique, and so he also drew inspiration from his younger sister’s appearance and hairstyle. Even so, we do see some similarities between Jasmine and Jennifer, especially in the eye shape and eyebrows. They could pass for relatives!
13. The Jungle Book’s Vultures were inspired by the Beatles
Considering their slight British accents, their perfectly harmonized singing voices, and their mop-top haircuts, it’s hard to not see the Beatles in this group of Vultures. The English band was also supposed to voice the characters, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out during the production process. The animation team and the group dealt with conflicting schedules and apparently, John Lennon was never a fan of the idea. But of course, the band’s inability to participate didn’t prevent Disney from using these characters anyway.
12. Milhouse Van Houten was inspired by Josh Saviano
We all knew him as Kevin Arnold’s adorkable bestie on The Wonder Years. But several years later, that same character would become the inspiration for Bart Simpson’s best friend, Milhouse Van Houten on The Simpsons. They could pass for twins, from the identical hairstyles and glasses to their similar fashion sense. Plus, they both make awesome friends on screen, do they not?!
11. Rainier Wolfcastle was inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Well, to be exact, Rainer is actually a hilarious parody of Arnold. On the show, Rainer is an Australian, overly-muscular movie star who’s best known for his action film series, McBain. And of course, he also has an interest in politics (he once ran for mayor). Aside from nailing his overall character down to a T, the animators also did a stellar job of copying the Terminator’s image. Rainer is basically an animated clone of Arnold.
10. Betty Boop was inspired by Baby Esther and Helen Kane
Well, there’s a bit of drama behind Betty Boop’s origin. The creator, Max Fleischer, took inspiration for Betty’s looks and mannerisms from the singer, Helen Kane. But little did he know that Helen’s singing style, (or rather, her cutesy voice and “boop” scatters), were appropriated from an African American entertainer named Esther Jones (also known as Baby Esther).
Helen tried to sue Max and Paramount for using her likeness without her consent, but once the news got out that she herself stole Baby Esther’s style, the case didn’t go in her favor. So technically, the real inspiration for Betty was Baby Esther, even though she appears to look more like Helen.
9. Snow White was inspired by Marge Champion
When she was just 14 years old, Marge became the dance model for one of the first Disney princesses ever. The animators used her movements in order to make Snow White’s figure more realistic and some of her features inspired the characters looks. After working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Marge went on to become a model for animated characters in films like Pinocchio and Fantasia.
8. Pocahontas was inspired by Irene Bedard
The Native American actress actually voiced the speaking parts for Disney princess and got to be a physical model for the character, as well. (FYI: Judy Kuhn was the voice behind Pocahontas’s songs.) The animators also included some of Irene’s features in order to make her look as genuine as possible. After voicing Pocahontas, Irene appeared in Terence Malick’s retelling, The New World, as Pocahontas’s mother, Nonoma Winanuske Matatiske.
7. Smurfette was inspired by Katy Perry
Back in 2011, when Smurfette’s character was introduced in The Smurfs, she basically looked like Katy Perry‘s blue mini-me. Aside from adding a few of Katy’s mannerisms and references to her songs, the animators also had Katy voice the character. It’s no wonder why Smurfette seemed so familiar!
6. Rocko was inspired by Woody Allen
In Rocko’s Modern Life, the main character was described as “a young anthropomorphic Woody Allen, who has just moved away from his home into a surrealistic adult world.” So while the cartoon might only look slightly like the actor, he definitely had the same personality. But here’s another fun fact: Some of Woody’s mannerisms were also included in Filburt, the nerdy turtle with tons of phobias.
5. Chuckie Finster was inspired by Mark Mothersbaugh
Chuckie’s character design was based on the American singer and Rugrats composer. Perhaps it’s tough to notice similarities, but Chuckie’s wild red hair and thick glasses were inspired by the star. It was never confirmed, but we still wonder if the animators also included a few of Mark’s personality traits in Chuckie…
4. Ursula was inspired by Harris Glenn Milstead/Divine
From Ursula’s fancy jewelry, full body shape, and bold makeup, it’s clear that the animators kept the legendary drag queen, Divine, in mind while creating the evil sea witch. However, Glenn Milstead unfortunately never got to see the end result because he passed away a year before The Little Mermaid got released. According to Jeffrey Schwarz, the documentarian who made I Am Divine, the entertainer “would have wanted to play the part himself.” That definitely would’ve been a treat.
3. Ariel was inspired by Alyssa Milano
The Disney princess of the sea was modeled after a very young Alyssa Milano, but the actress had no idea until decades after the first film was made. When she appeared on The Wendy Williams Show in 2013, she said: “I didn’t know that when it was going on, but they asked me to host the making of The Little Mermaid, and it came out there that the drawing and likeness of The Little Mermaid was based on pictures of me from when I was younger, which is so cool.” We’d feel the same way if we found out an iconic Disney princess had been modeled after us!
2. Chip was inspired by Harrison Ford
It’s kind of like Indiana Jones in animation form, but with adorable chipmunks. In Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Chip was modeled after one of Harrison Ford’s most popular characters. He not only sported a fedora and a leather jacket, but he also kept a rope handy to lasso and swing between places. That’s pretty much where the similarities ended, though, since unlike Indiana, Chip’s personality was quite serious.
1. Dale was inspired by Tom Selleck
Dale, who played Chip’s best friend, was inspired by Tom Selleck‘s character, Thomas Magnum in Magnum P.I. And of course, like Thomas, Dale was more laid-back and he proudly wore colorful Hawaiian shirts. But again, that’s where the similarities stopped. Even so, Dale made for an entertaining character, especially since he complemented Chip so well!