Disney was once forced to recall millions of VHS tapes after viewers spotted a nude woman.
There have been a number of urban legends regarding the House of Mouse’s animated classics over the years: a cloud of dust supposedly spelling out ‘S-E-X’ above Simba in The Lion King; the hidden phallus in The Little Mermaid cover art; and Aladdin‘s apparent subliminal message, ‘Good teenagers, take off your clothes.’
While they’re still the subject of debate online, there’s one that’s completely true – and it involves a nude photo and 1977’s The Rescuers.
As detailed in James Proud’s Urban Legends: Strange Tales and Unsolved Mysteries from Around the World, Disney had to recall millions of copies of The Rescuers.
For those who’ve not seen it – in fairness, it’s a slightly more obscure entry in the company’s oeuvre – it follows Bernard and Bianca (Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor), two mice from the Rescue Aid Society who set out to help a young orphan girl escape the clutches of an evil woman, who plans to use the girl to retrieve a precious diamond.
However, one frame of the movie featured a nude photo of a naked woman. As per Snopes, it appeared in a scene around 38 minutes into the film as the two mice fly through the city in a sardine box strapped to the back of Orville. If you looked closely, you could see the topless woman at the window of a building in the background in two separate frames.
‘It was inserted as a joke during post-production for the original release in cinemas, as it could not be seen when the film was viewed at normal speed, but they forgot to remove it when the movie was put on tape, and the single offending frame could be viewed using the pause button,’ Proud wrote.
The recall was issued on January 8, 1999, ‘to keep our promise to families that we can trust and rely on the Disney brand to provide the finest in family entertainment,’ the company earlier said, referring to the nude photo as an ‘objectionable background image.’