22 year-old Margaret Kerry (who measured 35-25-36, and provides the voice of the red-haired mermaid) was the real-life model for Tinker Bell. Persistent rumors have incorrectly named Marilyn Monroe in this position.
Although original author J.M. Barrie is credited, this is the only major film version of "Peter Pan" which uses little of his original dialogue. (Even the live-action musical versions, as well as the silent film Peter Pan (1924), use much of Barrie's original dialogue.)
Kathryn Beaumont, who provided the voice for Wendy, also performed the live action references. In an interview, she said she had to hold out her arms and pretend to fly for all the scenes requiring it.
In compliance with the tradition of the stage version, the same actor, Hans Conried, performed the roles of both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. Nana and the Crocodile are also a "dual role" on stage, which the animators acknowledge by giving the Crocodile canine qualities.
The phrase "second to the right and straight on till morning" was changed into "second star to the right..." for the Disney version. Also, since the stage musical version with Mary Martin opened on Broadway in 1954, non-Disney versions have used the term "Never Never Land" as opposed to "Neverland."
This film marked two "lasts" for Disney: first, it was the final Disney film in which all nine members of the Nine Old Men worked together on it as directing animators; second, it was the last full-length Disney animated film distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. All of Disney's films after early 1954 would be distributed by Buena Vista, as well as all of the post-1954 re-releases of his earlier films.
GOOFY HOLLER: Heard during Captain Hook's fight with the crocodile inside the cave at Skull Rock, when Smee accidentally hits Hook on the head with his rowboat oar. The "Goofy holler" is partially obscured by gargling noises as Hook goes underwater after taking the hit.
The opening line of this film, "All (of) this has happened before, and it will all happen again," is quoted frequently in the song "Seek 200" by Information Society, though it is not a direct sample. (Information Society adds the preposition "of.")
This is the second film production of "Peter Pan" in which Tinker Bell has a form. The first was made in 1924 and starred Virginia Brown Faire as Tinker Bell. In stage productions she is portrayed as a bright light which is accompanied by the sound of bells when she is meant to be speaking.
The original Broadway production of "Peter Pan", or "The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" by J.M. Barrie opened at the Empire Theater on November 6, 1905. It ran for 223 performances, closed on May 20, 1906, and starred nineteenth-century stage actress Maude Adams, who never made any films and should never be confused with model-actress Maud Adams.
Walt Disney had been trying to buy the film rights to J.M. Barrie's play since 1935 having been smitten by a traveling production of the play when he was a child. The hold-up in negotiations was because Barrie had bequeathed the rights to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London. Disney finally secured the rights in 1939.
Active story development began in the early 40s as Walt Disney intended for Peter Pan (1953) to be a follow-up to Bambi (1942). Plans were put on hold, however, with the outbreak of World War II and would stay that way up until after the war ended.
Disney attracted negative comments for their stereotypical depiction of Indians, as indeed did J.M. Barrie with his original play. It's probably for that very reason that the Indians do not appear in the 2002 sequel, Return to Never Land (2002).
Michael Jackson's favorite film. He bestowed the name Neverland on his ranch in Santa Barbara, complete with a private amusement park. Jackson was forced to vacate it after controversy over his involvement with young, unsupervised children on the premises in 2005.
Ronald D. Moore, one of the executive producers and developer of the revamped Battlestar Galactica (2004), cites this film as the inspiration for one of the recurring themes of his series concerning the cyclical nature of time. The opening line of the film "All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again" is frequently quoted as a piece of scripture in Moore's series.
Unlike the voices in animated films today (which use and are promoted by big name film stars), this drew a lot of its voice cast from the radio, a medium where actors are used to performing solely by their voice. Bill Thompson who voices Smee in the film is one such example.
Animator, Frank Thomas who was responsible for animating Captain Hook, had some initial difficulty trying to get the character started. Thomas was torn between two iterations of Hook: as Erdman Penner's foppish dandy or as Clyde Geronimi's snarling heavy. Eventually, Walt came to Thomas' aid in regards of his approach to Captain Hook. Walt told him, "I think you're beginning to get him," and then advised him to keep going in that direction.