See the Voice Cast of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Then and Now
If ‘The Little Mermaid’ put Disney back in the animated fairy tale game, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ proved that they were back to stay. The film was a huge hit for Disney, earning both box office success and critical acclaim. It was even the first animated movie ever to be nominated for the top Oscar prize of Best Picture.
Over 20 years have passed since ‘Beauty and the Beast’ charmed its first audiences. Today, we take a look at what happened to the actors who gave voice to the film’s now classic characters in the decades since the movie debuted.
Belle, Paige O’Hara
Then: Like most of the voice actors in ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ O’Hara got her start on Broadway. Her musical roles included Ellie May Chipley in ‘Showboat’ and Fantine in ‘Les Misérables.’
Now: O’Hara continued to voice Belle in television shows, video games, direct-to-DVD sequels and other merchandise until Disney replaced her in 2011. She now resides in Las Vegas and continues her onstage career in productions like ‘Menopause: The Musical.’ She also paints pictures inspired by ‘Beauty and the Beast’ for the Disney Fine Art program.
Beast, Robby Benson
Then: A 1970s teen hearthrob, Benson was once up for the role of Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars.’ He was an unlikely choice for the voice of the Beast, but the filmmakers thought he brought out the character’s underlying youth and humanity.
Now: Benson went on to do additional voice work, most prominently on the ’90s animated series ‘Exosquad.’ He has directed episodes of countless TV shows, including ‘Friends,’ ‘Ellen’ and ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch.’ He recently published a memoir about living with a heart defect entitled ‘I’m Not Dead…Yet!’
Gaston, Richard White
Then: White was another actor with a musical theater background. Prior to ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ he had performed in several regional and off-Broadway shows and ‘The Most Happy Fella’ on Broadway.
Now: White has continued to voice Gaston for Disney productions and appeared in many stage musicals. He currently plays Sir Danvers Carew in the Broadway revival of ‘Jekyll & Hyde.’
Mrs. Potts, Angela Lansbury
Then: Lansbury was already a well known star of stage and screen when she was approached to voice the maid turned teapot. Her lengthy run on the TV series ‘Murder, She Wrote’ began in 1984. She had previous voice acting experience from playing Mommy Fortuna in ‘The Last Unicorn’ and previous Disney experience from her role as Eglentine Price in ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks.’
Now: Lansbury is as busy as ever, continuing to perform in films, on television and on the stage. She recently hosted a special on the popular British television series ‘Downton Abbey’ and is currently playing the title role in an Australian stage production of ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’
Chip, Bradley Michael Pierce
Then: Pierce began acting at age six and had a few minor film and TV roles before ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ The character of Chip was originally planned as a one scene joke, but his role was expanded after filmmakers heard and loved Pierce’s voice.
Now: Pierce has continued to act, both in front of the camera and behind the microphone. He voiced Flounder in a few episodes of the TV series based on ‘The Little Mermaid’ and was one of the voices of Tails in the 1990s ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ cartoon. Onscreen, he played one of the leads in ‘Jumanji’ and an ancestor of Captain Janeway in an episode of ‘Star Trek: Voyager.’ He also works as a bartender and restaurant consultant.
Cogsworth, David Ogden Stiers
Then: Best known as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on the long-running TV series ‘M*A*S*H,’ Stiers had a number of TV credits to his name before Disney came knocking at his door. He played the district attorney in several Perry Mason TV movies and guest starred on ‘Murder, She Wrote’ opposite future ‘Beauty and the Beast’ co-star Angela Lansbury. He also provided narration for the film ‘THX-1138,’ directed by a young George Lucas.
Now: Stiers became a staple of Disney features, voicing Governor Ratcliffe and his servant Wiggins in ‘Pocahontas,’ the archbishop in ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ Fenton Q. Harcourt in ‘Atlantis: The Lost Empire’ and Stitch’s creator Jumba in ‘Lilo and Stitch.’ He continues to appear in TV and film roles, and recently gave voice to Mr. Maellard on Cartoon Network’s ‘Regular Show.’
Lumiere, Jerry Orbach
Then: The role that would come to define Orbach’s career hadn’t happened yet when ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was released. He had a prominent musical theater career, appearing in the original casts of ‘The Fantasticks,’ ’42nd Street’ and ‘Chicago.’ Most viewers at the time knew Orbach for his role in ‘Dirty Dancing’ as the father of Jennifer Grey’s character, Baby. He had crossed paths with some of his fellow voice actors before in a Perry Mason TV movie and (like every actor in the universe) he also appeared on ‘Murder, She Wrote.’
Now: Orbach first appeared as Detective Lennie Briscoe on ‘Law & Order’ the year after ‘Beauty and the Beast’ premiered. During his 12 year run on the acclaimed police procedural, Orbach managed to find time to act in several films and continue voicing Lumiere. Sadly, Orbach passed away in 2004 after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Maurice, Rex Everhart
Then: Everhart had a long career in the theater and guest spots on many TV shows. He had a small role in the 1978 ‘Superman’ and played Enos the truck driver in ‘Friday the 13th’ and its sequel.
Now: Aside from an appearance on ‘Square One TV’ and a small voice part in a PBS documentary about Abraham Lincoln, Everhart stuck to the theater. He appeared in a revival of ‘1776’ as Ben Franklin, a role he had originated over 20 years earlier. Everhart died in 2000, just shy of his 80th birthday.
Lefou, Jesse Corti
Then: Corti had a background in theater and just a few TV and films roles when he was cast as Gaston’s lackey. He was in the original Broadway cast of ‘Les Misérables,’ where he played Courfeyrac.
Now: Corti continues to act and has had guest roles on many TV series. Playing Lefou opened the door for more voice acting work for Corti, most notably in video games such as the ‘Metal Gear Solid’ series, the ‘Uncharted’ games and ‘Call of Juarez: The Cartel.’ Recently, he did voices for a children’s show and an animated ‘Night of the Living Dead’ film, both of which are in post-production.