Released 25 years ago this week (on November 13, 1991), Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" was an instant landmark.
It was the first animated feature nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, the first to earn more than $100 million during its initial run, and the first Disney cartoon to spawn a Broadway musical. And in March, it'll be the first film from Disney's 1990s animation renaissance to join the studio's growing list of live-action movie versions of its vintage cartoons, with Emma Watson playing Belle in "Beauty and the Beast."
Naturally, a film so celebrated is rich in behind-the-scenes lore. So rich that, five years after our last unearthing of "Beauty and the Beast" trivia, we've discovered 15 more things you didn't know about the beloved toon.
1. There are only five minutes in the film with no music.
2. Another first: "Beauty" was the first Disney cartoon feature scripted by a woman, Linda Woolverton.
3. Coming on the heels of Disney smash "The Little Mermaid," the production almost hired that film's Ariel, Jodi Benson, for princess duty again to play Belle. Instead, they went with Broadway vet Paige O'Hara.
4. Woolverton modeled the fiercely independent, book-smart Belle after Katharine Hepburn, especially her performance as Jo in "Little Women." Accordingly, her bickering, bantering relationship with Beast was modeled after Hepburn's screen romances with with Spencer Tracy.
5. For Beast, the filmmakers initially considered several performers who could do gruff and angry voices, including Tim Curry, Laurence Fishburne, Val Kilmer, Mandy Patinkin, and even Regis Philbin.
6. But Robby Benson, known for his sensitive-guy parts, won the role by summoning up a deep, growling bellow that suggested inner torment without all the roaring bluster.
7. Animator Glen Keane designed the Beast's hybrid features after several visits to London's Regents Park Zoo. He gave Beast a lion's mane, a buffalo's head and beard, a gorilla's brow, a wild boar's tusks, a bear's body, a wolf's legs and tail, and a man's eyes.
8.Rupert Everett auditioned for Gaston, but the filmmakers didn't think him arrogant enough. He took that lesson to heart a decade later, when he read for -- and won -- the similar role of Prince Charming in "Shrek 2." The part in "Beast" went instead to Richard White.
9.Julie Andrews was considered for the role of Mrs. Potts before the filmmakers cast Angela Lansbury as the singing kettle.
10. "M*A*S*H" alum David Ogden Stiers was neither the first nor the second choice to play talking clock Cogsworth. The producers offered John Cleese the role, but he turned them down. (Like Everett and Andrews, he'd end up in "Shrek 2.")
11. Patrick Stewart was to take on the role, but he couldn't resolve a scheduling conflict with "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
12. Stiers improvised the punchline in Cogsworth's romantic advice to Beast. Along with "flowers, chocolates," the actor added, "promises you don't intend to keep."
13. The Oscar-winning title song was originally composed as a light rock number. Lansbury didn't feel comfortable with that arrangement, so she offered to sing it as a more traditional ballad. On the way to the recording session in New York, her plane was delayed by a bomb threat. Though she arrived hours late, she wasn't rattled and insisted on going straight to the studio. She nailed the song in one take. A quarter-century later, O'Hara recalled that there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
14. The smoke that appears when Beast turns back into a man wasn't animated. It was footage of real smoke, recycled from Disney's "The Black Cauldron."
15. If you freeze the frame on Gaston's face (above) during his fatal plunge, you'll see tiny skulls in his pupils.
16. Disney was inspired to release the 2002 extended cut -- featuring "Human Again," a number cut from the original release but used in the stage musical -- by the example of all the "Star Wars" special editions released to home video.
17. Keane grumbled that his creation should never have been turned back into a man. He suggested that Belle could at least ask her newly-human love if he would ever consider growing a beard. Oh, well, maybe that line will make it into the Emma Watson version.