Many days when the three Ms were younger, I thought of the Cinderella story. The housework seemed un-ending and the piles of laundry looked insurmountable. Like Cinderella, just when it seemed like she would get a break, the work piled up even more. “I want to go to the ball,” I’d say under my breath as I wiped off any surface, or face, or hands for the 843rd time that day.
How many times did I wish for a Fairy Godmother to bibbity-bobbity-boo into the scene and wave that magic wand? More time than I can count. Turns out, after meeting the daughter of the woman that inspired the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, it takes just as much work to be a Fairy Godmother as it does to be a mother. The title contains the word “mother” -I should have known it wouldn’t be much different!
I got the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet JP O’Connor, the daughter of Mary Alice O’Connor who was credited with being the model for the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, when I traveled to Los Angeles back in August. (I wrote about the trip here and here). According to her daughter, her mom did everything a mom was expected to do “back in the day”: raise a family, keep a house, and have a beautifully prepared, well-balanced meal on the table at dinner time. But she didn’t stop there; her work and talents spread far beyond her own family. She waved her wand as far as it could reach and created magic all over the city of Burbank.
She was a member of the school board for a decade, raised more money for causes than people could count (apparently, no one could say “no” to Mary Alice) and she never stopped working for the greater good. She made dreams come true by always saying “how can I help?” and using her powers for good. No wonder her husband, Kendall O’Connor (A Disney layout artist), wanted to immortalize her as the beloved Fairy Godmother of Cinderella.
I could have spent days listening to the stories of how JP’s mom would conduct her family’s business, as well as the business of the numerous committees she was a member of, from her kitchen all with a phone nestled in the crook of her shoulder. We all laughed when we heard the story of the family getting another phone line in the house so others could finally use it, only to have both lines be occupied by Mary Alice. Now she had phones in both ears and kept right on working her magic.
Now that Cinderella Diamond Edition is out on Blu-Ray and DVD (as of Tuesday October 2, 2012) this beautiful movie is digitally restored and sounds amazing. It’s hard to believe this was made decades ago -the picture is so clean. The movie can be watched in two ways: as it originally appeared on movie screens, in a square format, or with original artwork displayed on the sides instead of the black bars in “Disney View”. Either way, it looks incredible. You may have seen this movie before, but it’s never looked this good.
We played around with all the bonus features (our favorite part of special edition movie releases) and watched the feature “The Real Fairy Godmother”. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always loved the story of Cinderella. Watching this background story made me love it even more and gave me a glimpse into the creative process behind the film. I always enjoy getting an inside scoop.
As we watched the movie after seeing this special feature about Mary Alice and meeting her daughter in real life, I realized I couldn’t watch the movie the same way as I had before. I used to focus so much on Cinderella and how she got her Fairy Godmother, her prince, and things worked out for her in the end.
This time as I watched with the perspective of someone with a fortunate life of having most (you know I still drive the white minivan) of my dreams come true, I focused on the Fairy Godmother. This cheery, making-it-all-seem-so-easy woman who gave Cinderella the tools for making her dreams come true, now had a larger story than just the few minutes we see her on screen. She was a real person who worked as hard as Cinderella and all the moms out there who just want to get a break and go to the ball.
Disclaimer: I got to travel to Los Angeles and had all kinds of cool things happen like meeting J.P. O’Connor and eating awesome food I didn’t have to prepare for myself, but the opinions here are mine.