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 30th as 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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“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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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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Forgotten U.S. History: The Sultana Disaster

Appalling Steamboat Disaster (Sultana)

Appalling Steamboat Disaster (Sultana) Sat, Apr 29, 1865 – 1 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

In late April of 1865, the steamboat Sultana chugged up the Mississippi river with over 2000 passengers weighing down its decks. Most were Union prisoners returning home from camps like Cahaba and Andersonville, weak and happy to be heading home after a hard and bloody war.

Payment and Patch-Jobs

With thousands of Union prisoners needing a way home, the U.S. Government paid steamship captains several dollars a head for every soldier transported north. The Chief Quartermaster at Vicksburg, Missouri, suggested a deal to Captain James Cass Mason of the Sultana: he’d get Mason a full load of 1400 men in return for some of that sweet government cash. Mason agreed, but didn’t expect over 1900 soldiers to crowd every spare inch of space on a boat only meant to carry 376.

Meanwhile, a leaking boiler on board had been quickly patched to allow the steamer to take on the massive load of passengers. With decks sagging under the weight and the boiler crack ominously nailed together with a metal plate, the Sultana continued on its way.

Last known photo of Sultana and passengers

Last known photo of Sultana and passengers Fri, Oct 7, 1994 – 7 · The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com

Confluence of Consequence

At 2 am on April 27th, the leaking boiler exploded and took out two more boilers along with it. The blast tore the steamer apart just north of Memphis, Tennessee, and within twenty minutes the ship was burning to the water line. Those who survived the blast found themselves trapped on the fiery decks or thrown into the river. Those in the river either drowned, weakened from their injuries, or watched in horror as the ship burned with their friends still on board.

Details of the Sultana explosion

Details of the Sultana explosion Tue, May 9, 1865 – 1 · Buffalo Weekly Express (Buffalo, New York) · Newspapers.com

In all, around 1200 passengers perished. To this day it remains the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. But in the wake of events like the war ending and Lincoln’s assassination, this tragedy has been all but forgotten.

News of Sultana disaster overshadowed by other significant events

News of Sultana disaster overshadowed by other significant events Fri, Oct 7, 1994 – 7 · The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com

The Sultana disaster wasn’t as covered as other events at the time, but there’s more to find on Newspapers.com. Try a search for the steamship or Captain Mason for more about the incident and aftermath.

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Potoooooooo’s Name

Have you ever heard of Potoooooooo, famous race horse of the 18th century? Though an excellent race horse and a significant sire, he is most remembered now for his unusual name. You may have noticed it.

The origin of his funny name has a couple of supposed explanations, but the most common is nicely wrapped up here:

The famous racehorse, Potoooooooo

The famous racehorse, Potoooooooo Fri, Jan 29, 1915 – 8 · The Washburn Leader (Washburn, North Dakota) · Newspapers.com

You can find many more articles about Potoooooooo on Newspapers.com, though you may want to search a common alternate spelling, Pot-8-Os.

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