We all know the phrase “to infinity and beyond” from the most beloved astronaut for generations, but few know that Buzz Lightyear is inspired by a real person.
There are few movies that we millennials remember fondly, and one of them is Toy Story, starred by Woody, the most legendary cowboy of all time, and Buzz Lightyear, the astronaut who fights in an infinite war against Zurg, the evil space villain. When talking about these characters, the song “You’ve got a friend in me” immediately rings in our heads, although for many people Woody was always Andy’s best friend, for others, his favorite was always Buzz.
Contrary to Woody’s famous phrase to Buzz: “You’re a toy!”, here is why Woody was not right since Buzz Lightyear is one of the closest characters to real life: he was inspired by an astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
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Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut who inspired Buzz Lightyear
It was Edwin Eugene Aldrin, an American astronaut, who inspired Buzz Lightyear’s character. He participated in NASA’s Apollo 11 mission and landed on the Moon in 1969. His little sister called him “buzzer” because he had difficulty pronouncing “brother”; eventually his sister was able to pronounce brother, but Aldrin became so fond of the nickname his little sister had given him that he eventually decided to legally change his name to Buzz Aldrin.
Buzz Aldrin has a long history as a scientist and astronaut. In January 1930 Aldrin became an Air Force pilot in the United States and in 1966 he began his career as an astronaut. On the Apollo 11 mission, he became the second man to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, stepping on the natural satellite just right after his friend Neil Armstrong.
Buzz Lightyear and Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin doesn’t have wings, nor a suit with a laser beam on his arm, but certainly, nothing compares to being the second man to set foot on the moon. Buzz Aldrin was the first person to take a “space selfie” aboard NASA’s Gemini 12 mission in November 1966, because this incredible astronaut not only went to the Moon once but twice.
Aldrin has participated several times with Disney, there is even a video in which Buzz Aldrin explains to Buzz Lightyear how to train before going to the International Space Station (ISS) and the things he has to do to become an exceptional astronaut as he is.
Nevertheless, Aldrin did not leave the spotlight after his collaboration with Disney, as he made several appearances in series and movies, such as in the fictional movie Transformers 3 in which he represents himself, greeting Optimus Prime and telling him that it is a great honor to meet him. He also appears in the series The Big Bang Theory in which he also represents himself, joking about how he can’t stop talking about space and when he was an astronaut.
Story originally published in Cultura Colectiva in Spanish