Cinderella (Disney character)

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Cinderella character
Cinderella disney.png
Cinderella as she appears in Cinderella (1950).
First appearanceCinderella (1950)
Created by
Portrayed by
Voiced by
Based onCinderella from the Charles Perrault's fairy tale
In-universe information
OccupationScullery maid
AffiliationDisney Princesses
  • Father (dies in prologue)
  • Lady Tremaine (stepmother)
  • Drizella and Anastasia Tremaine (stepsisters)
  • The Baker (step-brother-in-law)
  • The King (father-in-law)
SpousePrince Charming
ChildrenChad Charming (Descendants)

Cinderella is a fictional character who appears in Walt Disney Productions' 12th animated feature film Cinderella (1950). In the original film, Cinderella is voiced by American singer and actress Ilene Woods. For the sequels and subsequent film and television appearances, Woods was replaced by American actresses Jennifer Hale and Tami Tappan, who provide the character's speaking and singing voices.

In the wake of her father's untimely demise, Cinderella is left in the care of her cruel stepmother and jealous stepsisters, who constantly mistreat her, forcing Cinderella to work as a scullery maid in her own home. When Prince Charming holds a ball, the evil stepmother does not allow her to go. Cinderella, aided by her kind Fairy Godmother and equipped with a beautiful silver gown and a unique pair of glass slippers, attends, only to have to leave at midnight when the Fairy Godmother's spell is broken.

Reception towards Cinderella has been mixed, with some film critics describing the character as much too passive, one-dimensional, and less interesting than the film's supporting characters. Other critics found her endearing, charming, and timeless. Woods' vocal performance has also been praised. Panned or praised, Cinderella has nonetheless become one of the most famous and recognizable princesses in the history of film. She became the second Disney Princess. With her iconic glass slippers, silver gown, hairstyle, and transformation, one of the first on-screen makeovers of its kind, the character has been established as a fashion icon, receiving accolades and recognition from InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour and, as well as footwear designer and fashion icon Christian Louboutin, who, in 2012, designed and released a shoe based on Cinderella's glass slippers. Lily James played a live-action version of the character in the 2015 live action adaptation of the original 1950 film.


The Disney version of Cinderella was based on the French version of the tale by Charles Perrault, Cendrillon written in 1697 in Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passé.[1]


The script for the original film went through revisions by various writers, sometimes with different interpretations of the character. Maurice Rapf tried to make her a less passive character than Snow White, and more rebellious against her stepfamily. Rapf explained, "My thinking was you can't have somebody who comes in and changes everything for you. You can't be delivered it on a platter. You've got to earn it. So in my version, the Fairy Godmother said, 'It's okay till midnight but from then on it's up to you.' I made her earn it, and what she had to do to achieve it was to rebel against her stepmother and stepsisters, to stop being a slave in her own home. So I had a scene where they're ordering her around and she throws the stuff back at them. She revolts, so they lock her up in the attic. I don't think anyone took (my idea) very seriously."[2]


The character was animated by Marc Davis and Eric Larson,[3] but the two animators did not have the same perception of the character, accentuating the elegance of Davis and Larson's opting for simplicity.[4] As done with other Disney films, Walt Disney hired actress Helene Stanley to perform the live-action reference for Cinderella, that she before artists began sketching, playing the role of Cinderella in a particular scene,[5] and artists to draw animated frames based on the movements of the actress.[6] She later did the same kind of work for the characters of Princess Aurora (Mary Costa) in Sleeping Beauty and Anita Radcliff (Lisa Davis) in 101 Dalmatians.[6]

According to Christopher Finch, author of The Art of Walt Disney:

Disney insisted that all scenes involving human characters should be shot first in live-action to determine that they would work before the expensive business of animation was permitted to start. The animators did not like this way of working, feeling it detracted from their ability to create character. However, they understood the necessity for this approach in retrospect and acknowledged that Disney had handled things with considerable subtlety.[1]


In the original 1950 film, Cinderella is voiced by American singer and actress Ilene Woods.[7] In 1948, Woods was a young eighteen-year-old singer working as a radio personality at the time and hosting her own eponymous radio program The Ilene Woods Show.[8] While working at ABC Radio,[9] Woods would regularly be visited and approached by various songwriters who wanted the singer to perform their compositions, which is ultimately how she met and befriended Cinderella songwriters Mack David and Jerry Livingston.[10] Ultimately, David and Livingston "would play ... an important role in Woods's career."[8]

At the behest of David and Livingston, casually described as "a favor",[11] Woods agreed to record a series of demos of three songs that the songwriters had recently written for the studio's then-upcoming animated film Cinderella. Woods recorded the songs "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", "So This Is Love", and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes",[12] which the songwriters then submitted to Disney himself. Upon reviewing and listening to the tracks, Disney, impressed, decided to contact Woods personally. Two days afterward, Woods received a telephone call from Disney, with whom she immediately scheduled an interview. Woods recalled in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, "We met and talked for a while, and he said, 'How would you like to be Cinderella?'", to which she agreed.[13]


Cinderella is a young woman with medium-length strawberry-blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair complexion. After her father dies, she is forced into servitude in her own home and is tormented by her evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and two stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella. Despite this, she maintains hope through her dreams and remains a kind, gentle and sweet person. She has faith that someday her dreams of happiness will come true and her kindness will be repaid. Cinderella is shown to have a down-to-earth attitude, but she is also a daydreamer. For example, in "Sing Sweet Nightingale", she becomes distracted with the bubbles, allowing Lucifer to smudge the floor she was cleaning. Also, after hearing that the Grand Duke is traveling the kingdom with the missing slipper, she dreamily dances back to the attic humming the song she heard at the ball. She is also shown to have a sarcastic side and a sharp wit.

With the help of her animal friends, she fixes up an old party dress of her mother's so she can attend a royal ball. However, when her evil stepsisters brutally tear the dress apart, she is heartbroken and fears that her dreams will never come true until her Fairy Godmother appears, restoring Cinderella's hope by transforming her torn homemade dress into her now-iconic sparkling, light silver gown with a glittering crystalline puffy bustle, a delicate laced white petticoat, and puffy cap sleeves. Her hair is worn up in a French twist supported by a silver headband with diamond earrings, a black choker, silver-white opera gloves and glass slippers.

Her look was probably inspired by 1950s French haute couture, while her torn dress is clearly inspired by Salvador Dalì and Elsa Schiaparelli's Tear dress.[14]

As a servant, she wears her hair down in a ponytail, held in place with an aqua ribbon, sometimes supported by a white scarf and wears a brown dress with light aquamarine sleeves, a white apron, and black flats.



Cinderella as she appears at Disney Parks.

At the start of the film, the titular character Cinderella is working as a scullery maid in her own home for her cruel stepmother named Lady Tremaine and her two stepsisters named Anastasia and Drizella. Her only friends are the birds, the mice who also live in the manor house, including Gus and Jaq, her pet dog Bruno and her father's horse Major.

She prepares breakfast for the animals and for her stepfamily before beginning her regular chores. An invitation to the ball arrives at the door and Cinderella wants to attend. Her stepmother tells her she may go under the condition that she must finish her chores and find something suitable to wear. Cinderella discovers her deceased mother's old party dress and hopes to fix it to make it more modern, but she is too busy to do so. Meanwhile, when the mice see shadows of Cinderella's stepsisters throwing down their old sash and beads, Jaq and Gus are forced to quietly retrieve them. The mice use the unwanted items to fix up the dress. Later, Cinderella fears she will not be done working in time and will not be able to attend the ball, but her friends reveal the altered dress. Cinderella is overjoyed and thanks her friends. She races down the steps just in time, but her stepsisters recognize their discarded items and accuse her of stealing their sash and beads. They tear the dress to shreds, leaving Cinderella all by herself, and she runs out to the garden, crying.

Her Fairy Godmother appears to make her dreams come true and transforms her torn dress into a beautiful shimmering silver gown. Before Cinderella leaves, her godmother warns her that the spell will be broken at midnight. At the ball, Cinderella dances with Prince Charming and they immediately fall in love with each other. As twelve o'clock approaches, she hurries to leave, hoping to prevent the spell from breaking at the ball, which could cause her to get caught by her stepmother or stepsisters. In her haste, she loses one of her glass slippers on the staircase but fails to retrieve it in time. Cinderella hurries into her coach as it prepares to leave. The spell breaks and Cinderella is in rags once more before reminiscing her dance with the prince and thanking her godmother for all she's done for her. The next day, the prince announces he will marry the maiden whose foot fits into the glass slipper. Lady Tremaine hears Cinderella humming the same song that had played at the ball and figures out Cinderella was the girl Prince Charming fell in love with. Cinderella is locked in the tower by her stepmother, who refuses to let her have the opportunity to try on the slipper, but her animal friends help her escape. She hurries downstairs to try on the glass slipper. Knowing the slipper will fit her, Lady Tremaine intentionally causes the footman to trip and shatter the slipper. Cinderella reveals that she has kept the other slipper. She tries it on, and it fits perfectly. She and the Prince are married soon after.[15]

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True[edit]

Gus and Jaq, with help of the other mice, and the Fairy Godmother, set off to make a new book to narrate what happens after the ending of the previous story by stringing three segments of stories together, resulting in three individual stories: "Aim to Please", "Tall Tail", and "An Uncommon Romance". In the first story, Cinderella and Prince Charming return home and a party begins shortly afterward. In the second story, "Tall Tail", Cinderella works on planning to build up a festival. The mouse named Jaq in the previous film has become a human named Sir Hugh. And in the third story, "An Uncommon Romance", Cinderella helps her younger stepsister Anastasia reconcile with the baker, even though her stepmother Lady Tremaine has forbidden it. Near the end of the film, she reads the book that the mice made for her.[16]

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time[edit]

In Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, Cinderella's hard-working ethics, optimism, and devotion are put to the test, when she is magically stripped away from her "happily ever after" by a vengeful and then magically-empowered Tremaine and is forced to jump into physical action to restore her happy life and relationship with Prince Charming. During these events, Cinderella is shown to be cunning, tactical, persistent, and a fierce rival to those who oppress her. With no magic, being forced to rely solely on her intelligence and fearlessness, Cinderella is able to defeat her stepmother, repair her relationship with a reformed Anastasia and retain her much-deserved life of happiness, proving both her independence and strong will.[17]

Sofia the First[edit]

Cinderella appears in the pilot movie Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess, where she helps Sofia make friends with Amber, her stepsister.

"Le Croissant de Triomphe"[edit]

In the newest editions of Mickey Mouse short movies, a 2013 production reflects the iconic princess in a crucial moment.

Cinderella appears in the third episode of Mickey Mouse, entitled Le Croissant de Triomphe. While a café owned and operated by Minnie runs out of croissants, she makes a phone call to receive from Mickey an order of croissants. In order to arrive on time, Mickey hurries and flies through Paris, and accidentally lands in a castle where Prince Charming tries to fit the crystal slipper into Cinderella's foot. She was still dressed in her regular maid clothes. At that time, Mickey accidentally passes in his motorcycle and breaks the glass slipper.

2015 film[edit]

Lily James portrays the character, named Ella, in Disney's 2015 live-action version of Cinderella. Like in the original film, her father remarries after the death of her mother but after he dies as well, she then becomes the horribly mistreated servant of her stepmother Lady Tremaine and her two stepsisters, Anastasia and Drisella. They give her the nickname "Cinderella" when, one morning, she wakes up with soot on her face after sleeping near the fireplace the previous night. Unlike the original film, however, she meets the Prince (named Kit) before the ball while out in the forest. She is also shown to be more assertive when she actually stands up to her stepmother in the film's final act; Lady Tremaine attempts to blackmail Ella by only agreeing to let her try on the glass slipper if Ella will make her head of the royal household and provide suitable husbands for her stepsisters, but Ella rejects this idea, refusing to give Lady Tremaine power over Kit after the way she ruined Ella's life.

In other media[edit]

Cinderella appears as one of the Disney Princesses of Heart in the Kingdom Hearts series, captured by Maleficent, who destroyed her world. The main character, Sora, rescues Cinderella, as well as the other Princesses, and she returns home. She is only mentioned in the sequel, Kingdom Hearts II. Her story prior to being captured takes place prominently with her home world, Castle of Dreams, in the prequel, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep; she meets Ventus, who she mistakes for a mouse despite the obvious fact he's not, Aqua and Terra. In the Final Mix version of the game, her world is seen in the Realm of Darkness at the climax, Maleficent having destroyed it and captured her.

Cinderella is one of the official members of the Disney Princess franchise, appearing in several related video games, albums and other merchandise. Cinderella appears as one of the Disney Princesses in the manga, Kilala Princess.

Cinderella appears in the Nintendo 3DS game Disney Magical World. Cinderella's world is one of the four Disney movie worlds accessible to the player in this game, and many characters and items related to the movie appear. Additionally, the player has the option of attending balls at Cinderella's castle.

The Cinderella Castle is an attraction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Both serve as globally recognized icons for their respective theme parks. Cinderella and the other Disney Princesses have a meet and greet attraction called Princess Fairytale Hall at Magic Kingdom.[18][19]

In the season six episodes of the sitcom series Full House known as The House Meets The Mouse Parts 1 & 2, Cinderella makes cameo appearances in both Parts 1 & 2. She also appears in Dancing With the Stars played by Sabrina Bryan in season 15, Amy Purdy in season 18, and Witney Carson in season 22. Jessy Schram played a live-action version of the character in Once Upon a Time and its spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Dania Ramirez portrays another version of the role in season 7 as a main character with a different storyline.

Cinderella, alongside other Disney Princesses, appeared in the film Ralph Breaks the Internet, as was announced at the 2017 D23 Expo.[20]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Although the film has garnered critical acclaim,[21] Cinderella herself has attracted mostly mixed reviews in modern times.[22][23] Variety disliked the character, describing her as "colorless."[24] Calling her an "oppressed drudge," Empire panned Cinderella, describing both her and Prince Charming as "bland and colourless characters - particularly when compared to Beauty and her Beast."[25] The New York Times' Bosley Crowther similarly wrote, "The beautiful Cinderella has a voluptuous face and form—not to mention an eager disposition—to compare with Al Capp's Daisy Mae." However, criticizing her role and personality, Bosely opined, "As a consequence, the situation in which they are mutually involved have the constraint and immobility of panel-expressed episodes. When Mr. Disney tries to make them behave like human beings, they're banal."[26]

Film4 negatively described Cinderella as "one-dimensional."[27] Criticizing her design, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "If there is an obvious difference between Cinderella and such predecessors as Pinocchio and Snow White, it's in the general smoothing-out of the character's appearances," concluding, "Snow White herself looked fairly bland, but the other characters in the first decade of Disney animation had a lot of personality in their faces. They were allowed to look odd. Cinderella seems to come right out of its time, the bland postwar 1950s," likening the character's flawless design to that of a "Draw Me girl."[28] Concerned about the negative effects Cinderella's passivity could possibly induce upon children, Nell Minow of Common Sense Media expressed, "Cinderella is the quintessential passive heroine rescued by a male character ... so discussions about her meekness might be in order."[29]'s Laurie Boeder simply described Cinderella as "blah."[30] Desi Jedeikin of Smosh included the character in the website's "8 Fictional Characters That Are Horrible Role Models For Girls" list, explaining, "I'm like so happy that Cinderella found true love with a rich stranger who rescued her from her horrible life. But wouldn't it have been better if she did it for herself?"[31] Additionally, critics have also expressed favoritism towards Cinderella's supporting cast of animal characters, particularly the comic interaction and dynamic between her pet mice Jaq and Gus and her stepfamily's pet cat Lucifer, often preferring them to Cinderella herself while noting ways in which the heroine is constantly being "upstaged."[32]

Among Cinderella's positive reviews, Michael Scheinfeld of TV Guide drew similarities between the character and Belle from Beauty and the Beast (1991), writing, Cinderella holds up better because the heroine seems timeless in her courage and resourcefulness, a closer cousin to Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast than to other fairy tale protagonists."[33] Hailing Cinderella as "the most famous and beloved princess of all time," HowStuffWorks' Vicki Arkoff defended the character, writing, "highly sympathetic Cinderella is endlessly kind, patient, hard-working, and unassuming -- no matter how cruelly she is treated by her exaggerated, cartoonish foes." Arkoff elaborated, "Unlike Disney's passive, naive Snow White, Disney's Cinderella is a princess who decides to take charge and change her life for the better, rather than just wait for things to happen that might solve her problem."[34] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes' general consensus reads that, in addition to "The rich colors, sweet songs, adorable mice," the "endearing (if suffering) heroine make[s] Cinderella a nostalgically lovely charmer."[21]

Woods herself has collected widespread acclaim for her performance. Variety wrote, "Ilene Woods, as Cinderella’s voice, uses a sweet soprano."[24] Craig Butler of AllMovie opined, "Ilene Woods makes a marvelous Cinderella, her voice a combination of girlishness and sophistication; she also possesses a serenity and assurance which makes one feel she is more in control of her life than might be guessed by her surroundings."[35] At the time of Woods' death, animation critic and historian Charles Solomon told the Los Angeles Times, "one of the things about her performance is the warmth she gave the character. As soon as she began to speak, her voice meshed with Marc Davis' animation to create a heroine you liked instantly."[13]

Lily James' portrayal as Cinderella in the live-action film adaptation was generally well-received by critics. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal commended James for her performance.[36] Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey wrote that James makes the character "seem as if the sweet and spirited young maiden is infused with an inner glow."[37] Richard Corliss of Time said that James created a version of the character that is "both classic and modern."[38] Lawrence Toppman of The Charlotte Observer wrote that James played the character, "with the right mixture of composure and pluck."[39] The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney wrote that James brought "unaffected sweetness" to the role and also had "lovely chemistry" with her co-star Richard Madden, who played the Prince.[40]


Cinderella has since become one of the most famous, recognizable and popular princesses, both fictional and non-fictional, of all-time.[41][42] According to the San Antonio Express-News, Cinderella is one of the ten most famous princesses of all-time.[43] In 2013, Cosmopolitan ranked the character the ninth greatest Disney Princess.[44]

In 2003 Woods received a Disney Legends award for her role as the voice of Cinderella. In 2010, she died at the age of 81 of Alzheimer's disease.[45] In an interview with Starlog in 2006 Woods said, "I love the idea that after I’m gone, children will still be hearing my voice [as Cinderella].”[46] In 2013, Film School Rejects recognized Woods as one of "7 No-Name Actors Who Had Iconic Roles", ranking the actress first and writing, "Woods ... really set the bar high, as she managed to audition for the part of Cinderella without even realize she had done it."[47]

Lily James' performance as Cinderella in the 2015 live-action film earned her nominations for the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress – Sci-Fi/Fantasy and the award for "Favorite Movie Actress" at the 2016 Kids' Choice Awards.[48][49] She also won the 2015 Breakthrough Award at the Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards.[50]

Cultural impact[edit]

Culturally, Cinderella has had a profound influence on the fashion industry. According to Sarah Osman of Young Hollywood, "Cinderella’s gown in this film is so iconic that it's become canon that Cinderella wears a light blue dress to the ball."[51] To coincide with the release of the diamond edition of Cinderella in 2012, French footwear designer Christian Louboutin created and designed a contemporary rendition of the character's iconic glass slipper. In an interview with The Express Tribune, Louboutin said that Cinderella is "not only an iconic character when it comes to beauty, grace and fairytale love, but also shoes." The shoes are described as "made of delicate lace [instead of glass] to give them a look of transparency, and adorned with butterfly designs at the vamp and atop the Swarovski-crystal covered heel," completed by Louboutin’s signature red soles. Only twenty copies of the shoes were manufactured.[52] In 2014, Entertainment Weekly ranked Cinderella tenth in its article "Disney Princesses: Ranking Their Hairdos -- and Don'ts!", writing, "The lowly maid's typically rage-inducing bangs somehow develop an almost stately character once the rest of her follicular baggage has been swept into an updo closely resembling a perky butt."[53]

At the 86th Academy Awards in 2014, Kenyan actress and Best Supporting Actress recipient Lupita Nyong'o donned "a light blue Prada gown."[54] Subsequently, the media responded by drawing similarities between Nyong'o's dress and Cinderella's ballgown. Cosmopolitan wrote that Nyong'o "took a cue from Disney with a blue iridescent gown and matching headband a la Cinderella,"[55] while the Daily News similarly opined "channeled another Disney princess for her Oscars gown."[56] Acknowledging the comparisons, Nyong'o's stylist Micaela Erlanger described the actress' appearance as "Lupita + Cinderella=Lupitarella."[57] Additionally, several critics have deemed Nyong'o's success a "Cinderella story."[58][59] According to MTV, several other Academy Award attendants wore similar outfits that were reminiscent of Disney characters in addition to Nyong'o.[60]

Makeover sequence[edit]

The iconic "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" musical sequence in which Cinderella's Fairy Godmother magically transforms the character's tattered rags into a beautiful ball gown has garnered widespread critical acclaim, receiving positive reviews, accolades and recognition from several entertainment critics. AllMovie described the sequence as "splendidly done,"[35] while HitFix deemed it the film's best moment.[61] According to, the transformation of Cinderella's dress into a ballgown remains a common favorite and "one of the most iconic pieces of Disney animation because of what it means for the titular character."[62] StyleCaster wrote that the scene is responsible for introducing the common "movie makeover," writing, "Ever since Cinderella ditched those rags and threw on a ball gown and a pair of glass slippers, movie audiences have fallen for the beloved transformation storyline."[63] Featuring Cinderella in its list of "13 movie makeovers that still totally rock our socks off", Glamour summarized the scene's role in the film as "The movie makeover that sees a merry band of rodents help Cindera[sic]lla to make the perfect dress, eventually go to the ball and ultimately win the heart of a prince."[64] also included Cinderella in its "Favorite Movie Makeovers" list, accrediting the film and Disney with "first introducing us to the head-to-toe makeover," concluding, " Unrealistic expectations are born."[65]

Likewise, both the sequence and Cinderella's magical transformation have been featured on several "best movie makeover" countdown lists. On Stylist's list of the "50 Best Movie Makeovers", Cinderella placed first, with the magazine labeling her the "Recipient of the original makeover." Additionally, Stylist coined the list's other candidates "Cinematic Cinderellas," alluding to the character's legacy.[66] InStyle ranked Cinderella second on its list of "The Best Movie Makeovers", writing, "Cinderella’s fairy tale transformation is the stuff that many a little girl's real-life makeover dreams are made of."[67] Hailing it as "[The] makeover of makeovers" and "the movie that started it all," The Independent Florida Alligator ranked Cinderella first in its list of "The best of movie makeovers".[68] Style Blazer also ranked Cinderella second on its list of the "Top 11 Favorite Makeover Movies of All Time", concluding, "Cinderella and her pauper to princess makeover have already gone down in movie history as one of the best transformations."[69] Calling Cinderella the "Original Fairy Godmother ... makeover," Total Beauty ranked the character fifth in its article "11 Best Movie Makeovers".[70]


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