If Walt Disney‘s heart was making a wish for a box office hit, his dream came true with Cinderella.
The 1950 classic, which opened in theaters nearly 71 years ago, was Walt Disney Productions’ biggest hit in 13 years, since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs set a new course for feature-length animated storytelling in 1937, and the returns helped finance the studio’s animated and live action movies throughout the decade. Adjusted for inflation, Cinderella has a lifetime gross of $532.4 million.
But while the Disney cartoon version was generations of fans’ first exposure to the story of the beautiful young maiden whose wicked stepmother and stepsisters have made her a servant in her own home, the crux of the story is many millennia old, dating back as far as between 7 BC-23 AD, when the Greek tale of Rhodopis—a slave who ends up marrying the king of Egypt—is said to have been first shared.
While the foot-maiming version envisioned by the Brothers Grimm remains a fairy tale mainstay for those who prefer their sweet served with a bit of spice, most of the more contemporary retellings hew most closely to French author Charles Perrault‘s “Cendrillon,” first published in Paris as part of a story collection in 1697—hence the chateau that has fallen into disrepair and Cinderella being referred to as mademoiselle in the Disney version, which doesn’t actually feature any French accents.