The Dark Origins of The Little Mermaid

At one point or another, every little girl had fairy tale dreams. Some people grow up to realize it’s all just a fantasy, while other girls search endlessly for their prince charming. But just because nobody came to sweep me off my feet yet, doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading Disney princess stories as a kid. And my all-time favorite was, without a doubt, The Little Mermaid!

Actress Jodi Benson
actresses Jodi Benson, the voice of Disney’s Little Mermaid’, at Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage

Sure, I love Cinderella and Snow-White, but the one thing that makes Ariel stand out is that she is more than just a Disney princess. She is a mermaid. However, she decided to exchange her voice for legs, all in the name of love. Like all other Disney fairy tales, Ariel found her happy ending… at least in the Disney version. Let’s say the original story is much darker.

Here is the truth about The Little Mermaid.

Almost Didn’t Happen

When Ron Clements pitched his idea for The Little Mermaid, Disney was already working on a sequel to their live-action hit comedy “Splash” (1984). Clements explained that Michael Eisenberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg (Disney execs at the time) almost axed the idea.

Vintage engravings of a scene from the story of The Little Mermaid. Laura Trowbridge, 1892. Photo By Getty Images/duncan1890

They thought two mermaid movies might be a little too much. However, they decided to take on The Little Mermaid when they realized it was a fairy tale. Since Disney is known for its fairy tales and hadn’t had a mermaid princess yet, they decided to make The Little Mermaid.

The Truth About Ursula

Believe it or not, Ursula’s character was based on a famous drag queen. Reportedly, Baltimore-based actress and drag queen Divine inspired early drawings of the iconic Disney Villain. Sadly, Divine never got to see the character come to life since she passed away a year before the movie was released.

The Little Mermaid Ursula
Source: YouTube

Speaking of Ursula, Pat Carroll wasn’t Disney’s first choice to voice the character. The Studio was hoping to get “Golden Girls” star Bea Arthur to voice the sea witch. She ultimately decided not to take the gig; apparently, her agent didn’t like the idea.

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