A couple of Wednesdays ago, I challenged my readers to nominate the most wicked female cartoon character. Patricia nominated Ursula from The Little Mermaid, and I totally agree. But, there are probably a lot of things about this wicked witch of the sea that you didn't know...
Top ten things you may not have known about Ursula:
1. She's hardly present in the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of The Little Mermaid. Screenwriter Ron Clements decided to make the story different by giving the sea witch a name and making her more of a villain.
2. Lyricist, producer and writer Howard Ashman had originally envisioned Ursula's relationship with King Triton as a soap opera, and thus drew inspiration from soap opera actress Joan Collins.
3. Animated by Ruben A. Aquino, Ursula's original design was inspired by several different sea creatures, including manta rays and scorpion fish, before Clements finally decided to base the character on an octopus.
4. Her number of tentacles was reduced from eight to six for financial reasons.
5. Ursula's appearance was also inspired by American actor and drag queen Divine.
6. When The Little Mermaid was first released in 1989, Ursula was immediately embraced as one of Disney's best villains, and continues to be ranked highly among the studio's greatest by the media. Praised for being both humorous and frightening, the character has garnered positive reviews from film critics, some of whom dubbed her Disney's strongest villain in decades. Meanwhile, Pat Carroll's performance has garnered similar acclaimed to the point of which the role has eclipsed her previous body of work, ultimately becoming virtually synonymous with the character.
7. Pat Carroll was not the filmmakers' first choice for the role. There was a long debate among the film's creators about who should voice the film's villainness, the casting process for whom lasted an entire year.
8. In her book Tales, Then and Now: More Folktales as Literary Fictions for Young Adults, author Anna E. Altmann drew similarities between Ursula and the Christian figure Satan because both Ariel and Triton are forced to "sign a contract ... with her." Much like Satan, Ursula was banished from Triton's palace, similar to the way in which Lucifer was exiled from heaven.
9. As arguably "the most famous example of a direct tie to the LGBT community," Ursula has also become something of a gay icon, due in part to sharing Divine's appearance and personality.
10. The character's impact as a villainness has ultimately eclipsed those of her predecessors. According to Laura Rosenfeld of Tech Times, Ursula has had the most profound influence out of all animated characters in the Disney canon.The character is considered to be one of the greatest Disney villains of all-time, and continues to be ranked highly on countdown lists compiled by various publications.
I write about power dynamics in relationships, the empowerment of women, and the ethical and moral dilemmas love can create in our lives. This is a space where I meditate on those themes and share them with the word. Who knows, my next novel may start right here...