Were the Facial Features of the Little Mermaid Based on Alyssa Milano?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Ariel from the Little Mermaid was based on the facial features of Alyssa Milano.

The Little Mermaid was, in a lot of ways, a return to the past successes of Disney animated films such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

For one, it was the first Disney fairy tale in decades and for another, it was animated with artists watching actors act out the scenes, so that the animators could see how various scenes would really look like (the way that Ariel’s hair floats underwater was supposedly based on videos of Sally Ride in outer space…


if anyone knows otherwise regarding this Ride bit, let me know, that could be a future legend right there!).

Broadway actress Jodi Benson provided Ariel’s speaking and singing voice, but it was local comedy actress Sherri Lynn Stoner who was the basis for the animation of Ariel during the movie.


Stoner later was the model for Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

So where does Alyssa Milano fit in?

Milano was reportedly the model for the basic look of Ariel, specifically her face.

In 1989, Milano was starring on Who’s The Boss.


Here’s a comparison of Ariel’s face with Milano’s face….


Works for me!

When asked about it in 1999 in Premiere magazine, Milano said “That’s true. They drew her from pictures of me.”

Milano hosted a Disney Channel special in 1989 for the Making of The Little Mermaid.

So, she was obviously on their radar, she says it is true, the resemblance (and ages of the character) is similar, I have never heard anyone say otherwise (although I could certainly believe that Milano was just one of a group of different people they based Ariel’s look on – you know, a face here, a leg there, etc.), I’m going to go with True.

In a cute callback (I presume intentionally), in the series 5 premiere of Milano’s television series, Charmed, in September of 2002, Milano’s witch character, Phoebe, was transformed into (wait for it)…a mermaid!



Very cute move by Charmed.

Thanks to Al Weisel for the Premiere article!

The legend is…

STATUS: Apparently True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply