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In bringing his second feature length animated film, Pinocchio to the screen, Walt Disney’s wish for the Blue Fairy was to make her “probably the loveliest and most perfect character ever seen in an animated picture.” The embodiment of magic, this lovely creature was not without challenges, as the artists of Walt Disney studios worked to design Disney’s first fairy.

In the original Collodi telling of this wistful story of a little wooden boy who comes to life, the Blue Fairy is portrayed as having blue hair. Disney colour experts tested this possibility, but felt the results were a bit too jarring for audiences. After a number of explorations, Disney artists turned to the popular look within Hollywood of the day as the inspiration for their final platinum blond fairy.

"To define the features of this heavenly creature"

To define the features of this heavenly creature, the women of the Ink and Paint department attended classes with instruction on the special details of facial anatomy, emphasizing the eyes and mouth. Giving the ladies a better understanding of the thought behind the animator’s drawings, these classes were also shaped to help the inker reflect minute details. For example, variances in the eye’s cornea were a crucial part of directing the character’s gaze. With no shading or definitive lines within a feminine face, this presented one of the biggest challenges to the animator. The delineation of her eyes and mouth were a key part of conveying the appeal of this magical fairy.

Once her angelic features were defined, extensive colour tests were conducted by the Ink and Paint department to give this fairy the proper ethereal quality. Careful consideration was given to the light values, for if not done properly, she would look washed out. The special effects department went to work on crafting her inner light, giving her an unearthly glow.

After an extensive search, the lovely voice of the Blue Fairy is provided by actress Evelyn Venable, a popular film star in the 1930s. This versatile actress also taught classical Greek and Latin for many years as a faculty member at UCLA. Marge Belcher, who later gained film prominence as the legendary dancer and choreographer, Marge Champion, provided the gentle movement references for this enchanted creature.

With these steps in place, work began on final animation tests and nearly a hundred feet of film was devoted to conveying the results. Upon screening the final screen test of Disney’s new fairy as she would appear in the film, all of the predominately male audience responded with whistles and various cries to Walt asking for her telephone number. In a studio publicity release issued prior to the film’s debut, the headline read: “Blue Fairy Hides Telephone Number from Disney Boys.”

"unearthly presence and heavenly appeal"

Though her onscreen time is minimal, Disney clearly understood the importance of this character, as the Blue Fairy’s unearthly presence and heavenly appeal provide the underlying magic of this entire film.

With one wisp of her wand, and the simple words: “Little puppet made of pine, Wake! The gift of life is thine,” the Blue Fairy casts Geppetto’s humble wish. Appointing Jiminy Cricket as Lord High Keeper of the Difference Between Right and Wrong, the Blue Fairy instils the very best within this little cricket to keep his wooden charge on the right track throughout an extraordinary journey.

Published April 16, 2009

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Evelyn Venable

Lonely woodcarver Geppetto (voice of Christian Rub) carves a puppet out of wood and calls him Pinocchio. He wishes Pinocchio (voice of Dickie Jones) could become a real boy, The Blue Fairy (voice of Evelyn Venable) brings the puppet to life but explains to the little wooden boy first he must prove himself to be brave, loyal and honest. Jiminy Cricket (voice of Cliff Edwards) is appointed as Pinocchio's conscience, but temptation comes along and when Pinocchio tells a lie, his wooden nose starts to grow.


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