Princess Aurora / Briar Rose
Voiced by Mary Costa
The story’s protagonist. Mary Costa, the voice of Aurora, spoke the lines, sang the songs, and at the time was just about the same age as her character. Given beauty, talent, and riches at birth, Aurora symbolizes all that is good, and she is the prize of Stefan’s kingdom. She appears in only a few scenes midway in which she dances in the forest, cries in the cottage, and succumbs to the sleep of Maleficent’s curse. However, in every scene she naturally embodies grace and humility. A live action model named Helene Stanley provided the basis for the character’s graceful dancing.
Voiced by Bill Shirley
The nobleman betrothed to Aurora as a young boy who fortuitously falls in love with her as Briar Rose sixteen years later. Prince Phillip is a proud and strapping youth who willingly fights to the death in the name of love and goodness. He can dance, sing, fight, ride a horse, joke, and outwit kings. As the savior figure of the film, he embodies goodness and has no fatal flaw. He is noble, charming, and humble.
Voiced by Eleanor Audley
The evil witch who puts a deadly curse on Aurora and rules alone atop a craggy mountain beneath a swirling green cloud. Everything about Maleficent’s ugly presence portends ill: her black and purple cloak, her sharp and angular frame, the curdling raven on her shoulder, her long yellow fingers, and the green gases that signal her appearance. Maleficent embodies pure evil. She exists to challenge the pure goodness of Aurora and Stefan’s kingdom.
Read an in-depth analysis of Maleficent.
Voiced by Verna Felton
One of three beneficent fairies (pink dress). The unofficial leader of the three fairies, Flora and her pleasantly nattering, tiny-winged colleagues help Phillip defeat Maleficent. They seem grandmotherly one moment, but when there’s business to take care of, they’ll whip themselves into tiny balls of light and fiercely uphold the side of goodness.
Read an in-depth analysis of Flora.
Voiced by Barbara Jo Allen
One of three beneficent fairies (green dress). Fauna is the calmest of the three fairies, if only because she doesn’t argue as much. Overall, Flora and Fauna behave somewhat similarly. They exist as a pair perhaps to make Merryweather’s stocky intensity more striking. Disney initially wanted all three fairies to be exactly the same, but his animators convinced him otherwise. The similarity of Flora and Fauna may represent a compromise resulting from this argument.
Read an in-depth analysis of Fauna.
Voiced by Barbara Luddy
One of three beneficent fairies (blue dress). Merryweather is frumpier and feistier than the other two fairies, and she has to be held back on occasion from attacking Maleficent. Merryweather takes action much more often than her two colleagues, and she often speaks sharply and sarcastically, providing humor and piercing through to the truth of a given situation.
Voiced by Taylor Holmes
Princess Aurora’s tall, thin father. A pleasant, nervous man, Stefan is most easily defined in terms of what he’s not. He’s not a powerful presence either physically or as an authority figure, and he’s not especially sharp-witted. Instead, he’s an affable, timid father who reigns peacefully over a kindly, sleepy kingdom.
Voiced by Bill Thompson
Prince Phillip’s short, round father. A friendly, optimistic, blubbering man, Hubert easily trips over his words. Hubert reigns over the kingdom next to Stefan’s. A congenial sort, he looks forward merrily to the celebration. He’s the more boisterous of the two kings.
No voice credit
A jet-black harbinger of doom who serves as Maleficent’s right-hand man. His only role is to perform her bidding, which he does with terrifying competency. His submissive status to Maleficent is manifest by her constant reference to him as “my pet.”
Voiced by Bill Amsbery, Candy Candido, and Pinto Colvig
A collection of pigs, hawks, alligators, and other beasts. This mindless pack of helmeted louts scurry around Maleficent’s gloomy castle, guarding her chambers and doing her bidding. However, with their lack of intelligence, suggested by the dull brown palette with which they’re painted, they manage to foul Maleficent’s plans on at least one important occasion.
Voiced by Dal McKennon
The only member of Briar Rose’s forest friends who speaks to her. When Rose complains “Why do they treat me like a child?” the owl asks, “Who?” When Rose reveals “But I have met someone!” the owl asks, “Who?” The owl serves the same function as Maleficent’s raven or Phillip’s horse: to give one of the human characters someone to talk to when he or she is alone.
Voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft
The drunken guitarist who entertains Stefan and Hubert as they await Aurora’s return. Every chance the singer can get, he swipes some of the King’s alcohol, putting it into the bowl of his instrument.
King Stefan’s Wife
No voice credit
Aurora’s mother who is never named and has only two lines. King Stefan’s wife’s role in the film is limited, and she basically exists to round out the traditional setup of a kingdom. She has a gentle, caring face and clear concern for the welfare of her child. Aurora’s embrace of her at the end of the film is a genuinely moving moment.
No voice credit
Prince Phillip’s strong white horse. Samson doesn’t speak, but he understands Phillip’s words and nods or neighs approvingly. When tired, he’s easily bribed to continue on by the promise of food.
Voiced by Marvin Miller
An off-screen voice that introduces the tale of Sleeping Beauty.