12 Lost Disney Characters You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
A Disney animated feature goes through several edits and re-writes before it ever makes it to the big screen. Sometimes for the better — without cuts, we would’ve seen a comical turkey voiced by John Candy in ‘Pocahontas.’ Here are 10 Disney characters who join Redfeather in the league of those who didn’t quite make the cut.
Deafy, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’
In the original Snow White story, the dwarfs all had generic names and no defined personalities. To flesh out the story and make the dwarfs more appealing characters, Walt Disney and his story team gave the dwarfs easily identifiable traits and names to match. But picking the names and personalities was no easy task, as evidenced by the sheer number of unused dwarfs.
Among the rejects was Deafy, sometimes called “Deefy.” As his name(s) suggests, Deafy was hard of hearing and frequently misheard what other characters said to him. Story drawings of Deafy still exist, proving that he was a more serious contender for a role in the film than other suggested dwarfs like Thrifty and Burpy. (Yes, there was a Burpy.)
Why was he cut? It’s not clear whether Deafy was too offensive even for 1930s tastes or Sneezy — who eventually replaced Deafy — just had better comedic possibilities. Either way, Deafy was dumped and modern audiences were spared some cringe-inducing dated and insensitive gags.
Sunflower appeared in the “Pastoral Symphony” segment of ‘Fantasia.’ She is a young, black, female centaur (Centauride according to legend, “centaurette” according to Disney) who helps the other centaurettes shine their hooves and adorn their tails in preparation to meet the centaurs.
Sunflower is a unique case: a character who was cut after the movie’s release. Like most Disney films, ‘Fantasia’ was re-released at least once a decade for many years. By the 1960s, audiences were far less comfortable with a character whose appearance and role in the film smacked of racism. Sunflower was cut from the 1969 release and Disney has largely avoided mentioning her since.
Mr. Hare, ‘Bambi’
A predecessor to both Thumper and his never seen but often referenced father, Mr. Hare was inspired by Friend Hare from Felix Salten’s original book ‘Bambi: A Life in the Woods.’ Mr. Hare was well respected in the woods as the head of a large family and a gifted philosopher and storyteller, traits which may have inspired Thumper’s father’s frequent moralizing.
In one early draft of the script, he is constantly trying to tell Bambi a story, but keeps having to run off to avoid a fox before he can finish. Towards the end of the movie, Mr. Hare is shot and admits to Bambi that it wasn’t really that good of a story right before he dies.
When young actor Peter Behn gave his distinctive reading of the line “Did the young prince fall down?” at an audition for the role of one of several baby bunnies, Thumper went from an unnamed minor character to Bambi’s scene-stealing best friend. The role of rabbit was taken and Mr. Hare disappeared from the film.
The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, ’Alice in Wonderland’
The Gryphon and the Mock Turtle are among the bizarre characters Alice encounters in Lewis Carroll’s original book. One is a traditional fantasy creature, a stately lion-eagle hybrid. The other is a beast from Carroll and illustrator John Tenniel’s imaginations combining a turtle with the parts of a calf commonly found in mock turtle soup. At one time, the two characters were going to appear in the Disney version of Carroll’s story and perform a song.
Unfortunately for them, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has enough odd characters with no relation to each other as it is. Evidently, the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon added less to the story than the characters that remained in the film. Disney did revisit the pair later on in a series of Alice themed Jell-O commercials. (You can watch one below.)
Louis the Bear, ‘The Rescuers’
Walt Disney was interested in making an animated film based on Margery Sharp’s ‘Rescuers’ novels about heroic mice helping people in distress. But he wasn’t too keen on the plot of the first novel, in which Bernard and Bianca come to the aid of an imprisoned poet.
Among the ideas considered early on was a story where the mice instead rescue a bear trapped in the zoo. Very little has been written about this version of the film, so not much is known about Louis. What makes him an interesting lost character is the fact that Louis Prima – best known to Disney fans as King Louie from ‘The Jungle Book’ — was slated to voice him.
Walt Disney’s death in 1966 may have weakened enthusiasm for the bear in the zoo storyline, but the news that Louis Prima had a brain tumor was the character’s death knell. Animator Andreas Deja mentions a storyline where the orphan girl Penny befriends the bear, so Louis may have been part of the plot even after he was no longer the one being rescued.