Disney’s Aladdin: History & Trivia

Today marks the release of Disney’s newest take on Aladdin, an event that never would have happened without the success of its popular animated predecessor. In honor of the beloved original cartoon, here are five fun facts to mildly entertain your friends and family on the drive (or magic carpet ride) to the theater.

Disney's Aladdin

Disney’s Aladdin Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

1. Aladdin’s character changed significantly during the writing process

Between the initial pitch and the film’s release, almost everything about Aladdin’s character completely changed. His age, his family situation, and even the choice of inspiration for his personality and looks shifted over the course of several years’ work.

Revisions included aging Aladdin up, writing his mother out of the film

Revisions included aging Aladdin up, writing his mother out of the film Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 26 · The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

Al’s lack of charisma and “on-screen” presence was a recurring problem in early versions. Between the self-assured Jasmine and the scene-stealing Genie, Aladdin had a hard time keeping up. Forunately, he went through several rewrites to make his character a stronger contender.

Early Aladdin drawings meant to resemble Michael J. Fox

Early Aladdin drawings meant to resemble Michael J. Fox Sun, Oct 10, 1993 – 35 · The Herald-News (Passaic, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin and Jasmine

Aladdin and Jasmine Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – 53 · The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.com

2. Much of the story was based on the 1940 film, The Thief of Baghdad

The Arabian Nights story of Aladdin is a well-known source of inspiration for the movie we know and love today. But a fantasy film from the 40s about a scrappy young thief, a handsome king, and a (nameless) beautiful princess was also significant to the story. It even includes a deceitful adviser, Jaffar.

Aladdin heavily inspired by

Aladdin heavily inspired by “The Thief of Baghdad” Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – Page 78 · Northwest Herald (Woodstock, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

3. Artistic influences varied, from ancient art to modern caricature

It’s pretty fascinating to see what goes into a movie that, on the surface, can seem like little more than a children’s cartoon.

Inspiration for Agrabah

Inspiration for Agrabah Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin art influences

Aladdin art influences Sun, Nov 22, 1992 – 54 · Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com

And here’s a bit of fun trivia about the film’s use of color:

Use of color in Disney's Aladdin

Use of color in Disney’s Aladdin Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin and his magic lamp

Aladdin and his magic lamp Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 26 · The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

4. Robin Williams’ star power secured success (against his wishes)

The biggest controversy of the film’s history has to do with its most recognizable talent, Robin Williams. The role of Genie was not just perfect for Williams’ incredible versatility—it was specifically written for him.

Robin Williams Steals the Show (Aladdin)

Robin Williams Steals the Show Sun, Dec 6, 1992 – 20 · The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Robin Williams is the no-so-secret weapon of

Robin Williams is the no-so-secret weapon of “Aladdin” Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – 53 · The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Williams was happy to take the part; he wanted to be involved in animation and help create something great for his children. Disney agreed to his one request: that they not to use his voice to sell merchandise or prominently feature his character for marketing. You can probably guess (or remember) how that went.

Robin Williams has public falling out with Disney

Robin Williams has public falling out with Disney Sun, Apr 14, 1996 – 21 · Santa Maria Times (Santa Maria, California) · Newspapers.com

All’s well that ends well. After a direct-to-video sequel (The Return of Jafar, 1994) and a change in Disney management, a public apology was made to Williams. The original Genie was back for Aladdin and the King of Thieves, and some Genie-led educational videos to boot.

5. Aladdin broke the record for animation

Shortly after its release, Aladdin surpassed Beauty and the Beast as the highest-grossing animated film. However, it would only hold that record for about two years before being smashed by 1994’s wildly successful The Lion King.

Aladdin becomes highest grossing animated film of all time

Aladdin becomes highest grossing animated film of all time Wed, Jan 27, 1993 – 25 · The Post-Star (Glens Falls, New York) · Newspapers.com

1992 New York Times Review of Aladdin calls it a

1992 New York Times Review of Aladdin calls it a “dizzying, elastic miracle” Sun, Nov 15, 1992 – 120 · The Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) · Newspapers.com

Do you have any fond memories of Aladdin, and are you planning to see the new adaptation? Tell us about it below! Try a search on Newspapers.com to find more on the movie, its influences, and its reception.

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Memorial Day: Beach and BBQ or Cemetery and Ceremony?

Memorial Day is the first long weekend of summer and for many Americans, a chance to kick-off the summer season. The origins of Memorial Day, however, hearken back to a somber time in American history.

As the Civil War came to a close in April 1865, the nation mourned the loss of an estimated 620,000 war dead. Some were hastily buried in unmarked single or mass graves during the heat of battle. Soldiers didn’t carry official identification or dog tags, and many soldiers remained unidentified.

Soldier’s graves near General Hospital, City Point, VA

Shortly after the war ended, U.S. Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs ordered an assessment of the condition and location of graves of Union soldiers. Many were reinterred in newly opened national cemeteries. This federal program initially applied only to Union soldiers. Outraged citizens of the South organized a similar private effort, often led by women, to remember the Confederate dead.

As the first anniversary of the end of the war approached in April 1866, some women from the South made plans to honor the Confederate dead by decorating their graves with flowers and greens. The idea caught hold and spread until cities all over the south declared April 26th as a day to honor the Confederate dead.

In 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union veterans, established May 30thas Decoration Day, or a day to remember the war dead of the nation. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery. More than 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The tradition continued in following years and many northern states designated the day as a state holiday. Southern states continued to honor their dead on a separate day but the divide that separated North from South began to heal. In 1873, a little orphaned girl whose father died fighting the South placed flowers on a Confederate grave. “Would you decorate the grave of a rebel?” exclaimed a bystander. “Yes!” she replied. “Perhaps somebody in the south will drop a flower on papa’s grave.”

After WWI, Decoration Day gradually became known as Memorial Day and was expanded to honor the dead from all of America’s wars. Many cities boasted they were the first to hold Decoration Day observances. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson officially declared that Waterloo, New York, be designated as the “birthplace” of Memorial Day because of early observances held there. In 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday and designated that it be observed the last Monday in May, although some southern states still set aside an additional day of observance for the Confederate dead.

How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day? To learn more about the history of Decoration Day, and what later became known as Memorial Day, search Newspapers.com today! Do you have ancestors that served in the Armed Forces? Honor their service this Memorial Day by creating a Fold3 Memorial or search the Honor Wall to learn more about those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

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Puffy the HypnoCat

Need a nap? Try taking a look into the “huge, unblinking eyes” of Puffy, King of all cats, for a bit of restful hypnotism.

Puffy Can Make People Cat Nap

Puffy Can Make People Cat Nap Mon, Apr 9, 1945 – 9 · Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York) · Newspapers.com

Find more like this with a browse through the pages of Newspapers.com.

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Unusual Wedding Ceremonies

Wedding ceremonies bring with them a wide range of experiences. Mundane or magical, weird or wonderful, there’s a lot of pressure to make that knot-tying day something to remember. In the case of the clippings below, the happy couples made memories novel enough to earn a spot in the newspaper.

Married by Telegraph

Married by Telegraph Thu, Jun 8, 1876 – 1 · Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com

Married at 124 Years

Married at 124 Years Fri, Nov 6, 1891 – Page 1 · Harrisburg Daily Independent (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Married in a Trolley Car

Married in a Trolley Car Fri, Jan 25, 1907 – Page 3 · Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Wedding Ceremonies That Are Not Cut and Dried

Wedding Ceremonies That Are Not Cut and Dried Sun, Jan 30, 1910 – Page 16 · The Spokane Press (Spokane, Washington) · Newspapers.com

Marriage on Skis

Marriage on Skis Fri, May 27, 1910 – 5 · The Weekly Guard (Council Grove, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Married by Telephone

Married by Telephone Wed, Nov 1, 1911 – 6 · The Lindsborg Record (Lindsborg, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Wedding on Wheels

Wedding on Wheels Mon, Apr 10, 1950 – Page 3 · Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

This is just a few of the many clippings to find on this topic. Try a search on Newspapers.com for more.

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19 Incredible Photos from 1919 You’ve Never Seen Before

Historical newspapers are full of amazing photographs. Unfortunately, many old newspaper photos have been long forgotten—not given a second thought since the day they were first published decades (or centuries!) ago. But thanks to the digitization of historical newspapers on sites like Newspapers.com, these photos are no longer lost to time!

To highlight a few of these remarkable historical photos, we decided to look back 100 years—to 1919. So we combed century-old newspapers on our site to find 19 incredible historical images from 1919 that you’ve probably never seen before. Some are tied to major news events—like the Boston Molasses Disaster or the first transatlantic flight—but others simply document the lives of everyday people in the year that followed World War I.

Of course, behind every photograph is a story. To learn more about any of the photos below, click on the image to view the original caption or article on our site.

Find other cool photographs in the papers on Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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New Jersey Papers Added!

Do you have ancestors from New Jersey? We’re happy to announce that our New Jersey archives are expanding! We have 46 New Jersey papers from the Gannett Company that contain over eight million pages of content. Here are just a few of the titles:

The Record: Our issues date back to 1898 in the midst of the Spanish-American War. The Record covers news from Bergen, Hudson, Essex, and Passaic counties in New Jersey. You can also check for news from nearby New York counties like Rockland County.  The Record was initially published six days a week, but a Sunday edition was added in 1968. The Record archive also includes The Chronicle, a community weekly newspaper that started in 2005. The Record reported on one of the largest acts of foreign sabotage ever committed in the country when German spies attacked a huge munition depot in Kingsland (later renamed Lyndhurst) in 1917. The attack caused a massive explosion and contributed to America entering World War I.  

The Herald-News: With issues dating back to 1893, the Herald-News focuses on Passaic County. Our collection contains the archives of the Passaic Sunday Eagle, Daily News, Daily Herald, and The Item. Many of the county’s early residents worked in the metalwork industry and textile factories. The 1926 Passaic textile strike resulted in a work stoppage by more than 15,000 mill workers and lasted more than a year. At one point, the Workers (Communist) Party helped workers organize a “United Front Committee” to negotiate with mill owners. When the strike ended in 1927 it was the first Communist-led work stoppage in the United States.

The Montclair Times: We have issues of the Montclair Times that go all the way back to 1877, just a few years after the Montclair township was formed. This archive also includes issues of The Saturday Gazette from 1872-1873. Montclair became known as a desirable place for New York businessmen and their families to build a home outside the city. In the 1870s, as many as six-thousand Montclair commuters traveled to the city each day. In 1878, a huge fire destroyed an entire city block including the Jacobus Building that housed the press for the Montclair Times, but the paper managed still managed to publish the next edition. If you have ancestors from Montclair, search columns like Notes About Town for their names.

Court Records Survive Fire

The News: Based in Paterson, New Jersey, our archives for The News go back to 1890 and include issues from The Morning Call and the Morning News. Paterson was the nation’s first planned industrial city, laid out in part by Alexander Hamilton in 1792. A 77-foot high waterfall called Great Falls provided power for mills and factories and helped Paterson become an important industrial center. Edward B. Haines founded The News and chronicled the city’s headlines including the great fire of 1902. The fire destroyed more than 450 buildings. Many of the town’s important court records survived because they were kept in a vault.

Get started searching these and other New Jersey newspapers today!

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“He Met 20 Ghosts”

Here’s an interesting article from 1922. A man named William H. Bryson claimed to have been visited by many ghosts from his past, and all but one were “first rate chaps.”

He Met 20 Ghosts

He Met 20 Ghosts Sun, Mar 12, 1922 – 8 · New York Herald (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com

Bryson claims ghosts don't have clammy hands or exhale carbon dioxide

Bryson claims ghosts don’t have clammy hands or exhale carbon dioxide Sun, Mar 12, 1922 – 8 · New York Herald (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com

Those last couple lines are in reference to a haunted farm in Caledonia Mills, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, a story that was making its own trail in the papers of early 1922.

The Ghostly Fellows

Most of the ghosts Bryson met were friendly, and were often people he’d known in life.

Some of Bryson's Ghosts

Some of Bryson’s Ghosts Sun, Mar 12, 1922 – 8 · New York Herald (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com

But according to Bryson, the ghosts did not appreciate being given the cold shoulder (though it seems nothing malevolent came of their frustration.) Only one ghost was ever unwelcome, an old business partner who haunted Bryson for six straight nights to scold him for losing his money.

Despite all these visitations, Bryson seemed pretty comfortable with the whole experience.

Bryson not nervous about ghostly visitors

Bryson not nervous about ghostly visitors Sun, Mar 12, 1922 – 8 · New York Herald (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com

See the full article here, or try a search for similar stories on Newspapers.com.

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The 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad

On May 10, 1869, a golden spike was ceremoniously driven at Promontory Point in the Utah Territory. The spike joined the rails of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad and created the country’s first transcontinental railroad.  

Before this, a journey to the west could take six months by land; or six weeks by water either by sailing around Cape Horn; or by sailing to Central America and then crossing the Isthmus of Panama by train. It was also expensive, costing more than $1,000. After the completion of the railroad, the same trip took seven days and cost less than $150.

The idea of a transcontinental railroad dated back to the early 1800s. In 1845, New York merchant Asa Whitney asked Congress for a grant to purchase public lands to expand the railroad to the Pacific. Initially, his proposal received a lukewarm welcome. After the US acquired California following the Mexican War in 1848, it started to gain momentum. Whitney did his best to keep the issue at the forefront of public discussion by publishing a pamphlet called “Project for a Railroad to the Mississippi,” where he outlined possible rail routes.

In 1862, Congress passed the Railroad Act granting land and government bonds to the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad. 

The first track for the Central Pacific line was laid in Sacramento in October 1863. Their workers consisted primarily of Chinese laborers who managed to reach the summit of the Sierra Nevada Mountains by 1867. Meanwhile, the Union Pacific Railroad started building west from Omaha, Nebraska in 1865. Its workforce primarily consisted of soldiers from the recently ended Civil War, many of whom were Irish immigrants. Construction of the rail lines was swift, due in part to the fact that Congress offered bonds valued between $16,000 and $48,000, depending on terrain, for each mile of railroad completed. The enticement of land grants and government bonds led both railroads to work as quickly as possible. The two companies could have joined rails as early as January 1869, but the incentives kept them going and they laid 225 miles of parallel track before agreeing to halt construction.  

Just before noon on May 10, 1869, two trains, one from Central Pacific from the West and a Union Pacific train from the east, moved into position for the formal golden spike ceremony and the joining of the rails. After remarks from dignitaries, officials drove the ceremonial golden spike into in the rail. Telegraph lines carried the sounds of the spike being driven across the nation. The crowds cheered and a band played “Star Spangled Banner.”

Some have characterized the transcontinental railroad as one of the greatest achievements of the 19th century. If you would like to learn more about the transcontinental railroad or the golden spike ceremony, visit our topic page and search Newspapers.com today!

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Orphan Trains Head West

Lindbergh Completes His Transatlantic Flight: May 21, 1927

St. Louis Refugee Ship Forced to Return to Europe: June 6, 1939

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Bald Eagle, Balloon, Battle

Punchy headlines can be great at letting you know what’s up…sometimes quite literally. This particular battle not only involves a bald eagle, but a hot air balloon and the aeronaut within.

Battle with a Bald Eagle

Battle with a Bald Eagle Fri, Oct 9, 1891 – 2 · The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

For a while the eagle circled around the balloon, while Cleveland watched. This all seems a bit tame so far, but don’t worry. It’s about to get much more intense.

The Battle

The Battle Fri, Oct 9, 1891 – 2 · The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

A befuddled and exhausted Cleveland threw out his anchor and touched down on solid land. He walked along the nearby river until he found the bird—dead, as he suspected. Unfortunately for him, bald eagles are kind of a big deal in the United States and he was nearly fined for the crime of killing one. But, though the article doesn’t confirm, it seems likely that in this case the fine wasn’t enforced.

Find more odd and interesting stories like this one with a browse on Newspapers.com.

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