Disney’s ‘The Rescuers’ Secretly Featured NSFW Photo in Background of One Scene

There are plenty of rumors and speculation about inappropriate references in Disney films, but one of those legends is true. In January 1999, Disney recalled copies of The Rescuers on home video because two frames included the image of a topless woman. The images had apparently been a part of the film since it was originally released in 1977 but were not seen in the first home video release in 1992.

Three days after The Rescuers‘ 1999 home video release, Disney announced the recall of 3.4 million copies because employees found an “objectionable” image in the film, the Associated Press reported at the time. It was later discovered that there were two single frames during Bianca (Eva Gabor) and Bernard (Bob Newhart)’s flight aboard Orville the Albatross (Jim Jordan) through New York City, where an image of a topless woman could be seen in a window. The images could not be seen at normal speed, and were not seen in the 1992 video because that was sourced from a different print, Disney said at the time.

The NSFW image was included in the 1977, 1982, and 1989 theatrical releases, Disney said. The image could not be seen in theaters either, with the prints played at the usual 24 fps speed. Disney said its animators were not responsible for the image, only saying it was added during the post-production process. “This is something that was done more than 20 years ago,” a Disney spokeswoman told the AP. The Rescuers was later reissued without the questionable images.

The interesting angle of The Rescuers controversy is that it was never well-known until Disney announced the recall. Although The Rescuers was a big hit when it originally hit theaters in 1977 and even got the first sequel produced by the main Disney Feature Animation unit, The Rescuers Down Under, in 1990, it has been overshadowed today as some of Disney’s other beloved classics. As Snopes points out, you could only see the nude images if you knew when exactly they showed up. Some skeptics thought Disney made the announcement just to boost sales for The Rescuers on video. In 1999, Disney said the recall was meant “to keep our promise to families that we can trust and rely on the Disney brand to provide the finest in family entertainment.”

Other Disney scandals involving perceived inappropriate images or messages are often cases of people reading too much into things. One of the most famous is the “S-E-X” cloud in The Lion King. In one shot, Simba supposedly plops on a cliff, creating a dust cloud with the letters “S-E-X.” Animator Tom Sito later said it was meant to spell out “S-F-X” as a tribute to the art and special effects department. However, when Disney re-released The Lion King to IMAX theaters in 2002 and on DVD in 2003, Disney edited the film so Simba creates a cloud of dust with no discernible letters.

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