The Storied, International Folk History of Beauty and The Beast

Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast opens nationwide this weekend. The story of a woman who marries an animal who is then magically transformed into a man is a fairy tale with many roots going back to ancient folklore. You can say it's a "tale as old as time." The first English print version was published in 1757.

By November 1907, the phrase “beauty and the beast” was so well known that a headline in the Los Angeles Times used the phrase in jest. Rumormongers whispered the phrase in response to the scandalous trial of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle for the murder of Virginia Rappé, which ended in Arbuckle’s acquittal in 1922. And a play on the phrase appeared as the final line in the film King Kong (1933), when the showman Carl Denham observes, “It wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast”—a line that was repeated word for word in the 2005 remake.

Read about the evolution of the fairy tale we call Beauty and the Beast at Smithsonian.


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Wow! I learned something new. From Tales of Faerie:

Petrus Gonsalvus was given a wife-a wife selected for her beauty, not told what her husband looked like, and ordered to marry by the Queen. Yet, the couple got along, and may have grown to fall in love-in the illustration above, the resting of Catherine's hand on her husband's shoulder is a sign of affection.

They had seven children together-some of them with hypertrichosis (the only ones the public cared about).

The family attempted to live a normal life, but were exploited by a public that did not see those with differences as entirely human-tragically, the children who inherited their father's condition were all given away as gifts to other European royalty.
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