Disney Based Alice In Wonderland On A Real Girl, But She Didn’t Want To Pursue An Acting Career

Kathryn Beaumont was born into a theatrical family – her mother was a dancer and her father a singer – in London, England, in 1938. The young girl then started her show business career with a minor part in the 1944 British film It Happened One Sunday. This brought her to the attention of Hollywood studio MGM, which was on the look-out for British talent. As a result, Beaumont made the move to Los Angeles – but her movie career turned out to be just one part of her life.

After some small roles with MGM, Beaumont was spotted by Disney. There, still only ten years old, she won the voice-part of Alice in the studio’s 1951 animated feature Alice in Wonderland. Speaking in 1998 to D23, the official Disney fan website, Beaumont remembered that the studio wanted someone “English enough to satisfy British audiences, but not so English that it would put off American audiences.”

In fact, as well as doing Alice’s voice, Beaumont became the live-action reference for the animators drawing the character. This involved playing out the movements of Alice so that the animation artists could accurately draw the character from life. And her performance clearly pleased Disney, because she now landed another major part with the studio.

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Beaumont now played the voice of Wendy Darling in the 1953 animation movie Peter Pan. Wendy, you might remember, was the oldest of child of the family and became entangled with Peter Pan, the mischievous, ever-youthful boy. Beaumont also acted in this production as a model for the animation artists. For the film’s flying scenes, she was strapped into a harness. And according to D23, Beaufort was to later remember, “I had a slight fear of heights. Most kids would think, ‘Oh, what fun!’ I, however, was petrified!”

After this glittering spell as a child actress, you might have expected Beaumont to enjoy a successful career as an adult actor. But it was not for her; instead, she attended the University of Southern California and graduated with an education degree. Subsequently, she taught elementary school for 36 years until her retirement in 1997. Over the years she’s done some voice work for Disney attractions and video games, but it seems that the allure of Hollywood was but a transient phase for her.

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