Jodi Benson

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Jodi Benson
Jodi Benson crop.jpg
Benson at the World of Color Premiere Disney California Adventure
Jodi Marie Marzorati

(1961-10-10) October 10, 1961 (age 59)
  • Actress
  • voice actress
  • singer
Years active1975–present
Ray Benson
(m. 1984)
AwardsDisney Legend (2011)

Jodi Marie Benson (née Marzorati; born October 10, 1961)[1] is an American actress, voice actress, and singer. She is best known for providing both the speaking and the singing voice of Princess Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid and its sequel, prequel, and television series spinoff. Benson also voiced the character Barbie in the 1999 Golden Globe-winning movie Toy Story 2 , its 2010 Academy Award-winning sequel Toy Story 3, and in the Toy Story cartoon Hawaiian Vacation. For her contributions to Disney, Benson was named a Disney Legend in 2011.[2]

She also gave voice to the spirited "Weebo" in Disney's live action Flubber, starring Robin Williams. For Warner Bros., she created the voice of Thumbelina in 1994, a Don Bluth animated feature film with songs by Barry Manilow.[3] Her other projects include Tinkerbell: Secret of the Wings, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, Balto II: Wolf Quest, and Balto III: Wings of Change. She appeared as Patrick Dempsey’s assistant Sam in Disney’s live-action feature film Enchanted. While being a Disney Legend, she also voiced Jane Doe and Patsy Smiles in Cartoon Network's Camp Lazlo. She also voiced the character Tula in Fox's animated series The Pirates of Dark Water.

Personal life[edit]

Benson was born and raised in a Catholic environment,[4] graduating from Boylan Central Catholic High School in Rockford, Illinois,[5] and Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.[6] She experienced a religious conversion while dating actor/singer Ray Benson (not to be confused with frontman Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel).[4] The two of them later married in 1984.[7] They have two children, McKinley and Delaney.[8] An article originally published in 2013 by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said the couple "live north of Atlanta, Ga."[9]


Benson made her debut in the 1975 Kenny Ortega-directed "Marilyn: An American Fable". Other Broadway credits include a starring role in the 1986 Broadway musical Smile, where she introduced a song called "Disneyland". In 1987, Howard Ashman, the lyricist of Smile, would go on to write the lyrics for The Little Mermaid. She describes the song "Disneyland" at the "Smile" Reunion concert held on Sept. 22, 2014, "This is the first piece of the puzzle of my life, the first step of the journey, so to speak".[citation needed] Benson also sings "Disneyland" on a compilation CD called Unsung Musicals. In 1989, Benson appeared in the Broadway musical, Welcome to the Club, alongside Samuel E. Wright, who performed the voice for Sebastian the Crab in The Little Mermaid.

In 1992, Benson received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Polly Baker in Crazy For You. She played the narrator in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1998.

Benson also played the Queen in a one-night concert version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella at the Nashville Symphony Orchestra in May 2010.[10]

She was at the 2012 SYTA conference singing her signature song “Part of Your World” on August 27, 2012.

Benson has been the guest artist for the Candlelight Processional for five years at Walt Disney World including December 10–13, 2012.[11]

She joined the "2013 Spring Pops" on May 14–15, 2013 as a guest soloist with the Boston Pops.

Benson can be heard on over a dozen recordings and has a six-part DVD series entitled Baby Faith from the creators of Baby Einstein. Her animated TV series include the Emmy Award-winning Camp Lazlo for the Cartoon Network, The Little Mermaid, Batman Beyond, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, The Wild Thornberrys, Barbie, Hercules: Zero to Hero, P. J. Sparkles, and the series Sofia the First for Disney.

On the concert stage, Benson has performed as a concert soloist with symphonies all over the world, including The Boston Pops, The Philly Pops (conductor: Peter Nero), The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (conductor: John Mauceri), The National Symphony (conductor: Marvin Hamlisch), Cleveland, Dallas, Tokyo, and the San Francisco and Chicago Symphonies. She starred in the Kennedy Center Honors for Ginger Rogers, and in Disney's Premiere in Central Park with Pocahontas, The Walt Disney World 25th Anniversary Spectacular and Disney's 100 Years of Magic. Benson is the resident guest soloist for the Walt Disney Company/Disney Cruise Line and ambassador for feature animation.

On June 6, 2016, Benson performed the role of Ariel at the Hollywood Bowl's concert performance of The Little Mermaid.[12] She also made a special appearance in ABC's 2019 live musical spectacular The Little Mermaid Live![13]

The Little Mermaid[edit]

In late 1986, Benson first heard of the audition for The Little Mermaid through lyricist and playwright Howard Ashman. The two had just worked together in the Broadway show Smile until its run ended early. He knew she would be the perfect fit for the role and that she would be a great replica of Ariel.[14][15] After hearing the demo for "Part of Your World", she sang a small part of it on tape where it was later sent to Disney executives. Before her audition for The Little Mermaid, she was primarily a stage actress. It was Ashman's first Disney project. In early 1988, Benson won the role of Ariel.[14][16]




List of acting performances in feature and direct-to-video films
Year Title Role Notes
1995 Guideposts Junction Herself A six-part Christian video series for children
2007 Enchanted Sam


List of acting performances in television shows
Year Title Role Notes
1991 Hunter Police officer Episode: "Cries of Silence"
1997 Caroline in the City Mother Episode: "Caroline and the Egg"
2003 The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire Choir Soloist Episode: "Sleeping Lions"
2019 The Little Mermaid Live! Herself TV Special

Voice roles[edit]


List of voice performances in feature and direct-to-video films
Year Title Role Notes
1984 Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Lastelle's Mother 2004 Disney Dub
1989 The Little Mermaid Princess Ariel/Vanessa
1990 Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect Princess Arabella Direct-to-video
1991 Pirates of Dark Water Tula TV series
1992 Dance! Workout with Barbie Barbie Video
P. J. Sparkles P.J. (1988 Mattel)
Disney Sing Along Songs: Friend Like Me Princess Ariel Direct-to-video; archive footage
1994 Thumbelina Thumbelina
Disney Sing Along Songs: Circle of Life Princess Ariel Direct-to-video; archive footage
1995 Mickey's Fun Songs: Beach Party at Walt Disney World Princess Ariel Direct-to-video
1997 Flubber Weebo
A Christmas Carol Belle
1998 The Mighty Kong Ann Darrow
An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island Additional voices Direct-to-video
Blablaland Lola Pesto Direct-to-video
1999 Toy Story 2 Barbie
2000 The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea Princess Ariel Direct-to-video
Joseph: King of Dreams Asenath Direct-to-video
Batman Beyond Aquagirl Episode: "The Call" Parts 1 & 2
2001 Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure Lady (replacing Barbara Luddy) Direct-to-video
Nominated - Annie Award for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Feature Production
Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse Princess Ariel Direct-to-video
2002 Balto II: Wolf Quest Jenna (replacing Bridget Fonda in the rest of the franchise) Direct-to-video
Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe In Santa Lenee Television film
2003 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure Anita (replacing Lisa Davis) Direct-to-video
K10C: Kids' Ten Commandments Leila and Martha
2005 Balto III: Wings of Change Jenna Direct-to-video
2008 The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning Princess Ariel Direct-to-video
2010 Toy Story 3 Barbie
2011 The Little Engine That Could Jillian
Hawaiian Vacation Barbie Short
2012 Secret of the Wings Healing-Talent Fairy
2018 Ralph Breaks the Internet Princess Ariel


List of voice performances in television shows
Year Title Role Notes
1992–1994 The Little Mermaid Princess Ariel 31 episodes
1998–1999 Hercules Helen of Troy 10 episodes
2000 The Wild Thornberrys Mother Cheetah Episode: "Cheetahs Never Prosper"
2001–2002 House of Mouse Princess Ariel, Belle 3 episodes
2004–2006 The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy The Blue Fairy, Additional voices 3 episodes
2005–2007 Camp Lazlo Patsy Smiles, Ms. Jane Doe, Almondine 21 episodes
2013–2018 Sofia the First Princess Ariel and Queen Emmaline 2 episodes
2015 Star vs. the Forces of Evil Singing Teacher Episode: "St. Olga's Reform School for Wayward Princesses"
2016 Clarence Diana Episode: "The Tails of Mardrynia"

Video games[edit]

List of voice performances in video games
Year Title Voice role Notes
1997 Ariel's Story Studio Princess Ariel
1998 A Bug's Life Atta
1999 Disney's Arcade Frenzy Princess Ariel
2000 Grandia II Millenia
2000 Disney's Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge Nasira
2002 Kingdom Hearts Princess Ariel English dub
2004 Onimusha 3: Demon Siege Voice of Mother [17]
2005 Kingdom Hearts II Princess Ariel English dub
2007 Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey Princess Ariel
2011 Kinect Disneyland Adventures Princess Ariel
2012 Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure Princess Ariel
2012 Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion Princess Ariel
2016 Disney Magical World 2 Princess Ariel

Theme parks[edit]

List of voice performances in theme parks
Year Title Role Notes
2003 Mickey's PhilharMagic Princess Ariel Voice role


Year Album Notes
1990 The Little Mermaid Soundtrack
1991 Precious Moments Timmy's Gift Performed the song, Starlight Theme
1991 Jodi Benson Sings Songs From the Beginner's Bible I
1992 Jodi Benson Sings Songs From the Beginner's Bible II
1992 The Little Mermaid: Splash Hits
1992 Crazy for You Cast Recording
1993 The Little Mermaid: Songs from the Sea
1994 Unsung Musicals
1994 Thumbelina Soundtrack
1995 Songs of Guideposts Junction
1996 Hollywood Christmas Various artists
2000 The Little Mermaid II (soundtrack)
2004 Disney Princess: The Ultimate Song Collection
2004 Disney Princess Music Hits
2005 Disneys Princess Christmas Album
2005 Disney Princess Tea Party
2006 Ultimate Disney Princess

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations
Year Award Category Title Result
1992 Tony Award Best Actress in a Musical Crazy For You Nominated
2001 Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Feature Production Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure Nominated
2011 Disney Legend Award Animation - Voice The Little Mermaid Won
2011 EDA Female Focus Awards Best Animated Female Toy Story 3 Nominated


  1. ^ "Jodi Benson". Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "Video: Disney Princess voices, Regis Philbin, Hensons accept their Disney Legends awards at the 2011 D23 Expo". Inside the Magic. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  3. ^ "GETTING ALONG SWIMMINGLY". Jan 10, 1992. Retrieved Jun 17, 2019 – via
  4. ^ a b Gaither, Gloria (August 1, 2011). "Part Of Her World: Jodi Benson". Homecoming Magazine. Retrieved December 3, 2016. I was born and raised in a Catholic environment, she has a sister. I would say it was a little more cultural than spiritual — a little bit more religious than relational. And I was drawing toward the Lord in middle school, but I didn’t quite know how to have that personal relationship at the time. When I started dating my husband at 18, he introduced me to Christ, and asked, “Do you have a relationship with Jesus?” And I said, “I love Him, and I know He’s the Son of God, but I don’t think I have a relationship with Him — like I can talk to Him by myself without going through the priest and stuff.” And so, I had a really big conversion when I was 19, and Ray is responsible for opening that relationship for me.
  5. ^ Braun, Georgette. "Little Mermaid star at Boylan fundraiser April 17". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  6. ^ Cain, Tim. "100 reason: Original Ariel voice launched from Millikin". Decatur Herald & Review. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  7. ^ Breslauer, Jan (December 10, 1995). "Just Like a Fish to Water : Jodi Benson made a splash as the voice of Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid,' but she's really hitting her stride in musicals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  8. ^ Truitt, Brian (October 2, 2013). "'Little Mermaid' star Jodi Benson loves life as Ariel". USA Today. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  9. ^ Jothen, Tiffany (November 17, 2014). "Little Mermaid, Big Faith". Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  10. ^ Ellis, Jeffrey. "Headley, Mauzey, Benson Lead Starry Lineup for CINDERELLA, 5/14". Retrieved Jun 17, 2019.
  11. ^ "'Candlelight Choir' Sneak Peek: Neil Patrick Harris Returns". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved Jun 17, 2019.
  13. ^ Coffey, Kelly (November 2, 2019). "Jodi Benson, original voice of Ariel, to appear in ABC's "The Little Mermaid Live!"". Inside the Magic. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "An Interview with Jodi Benson, Voice of Ariel". Disney Insider. 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  15. ^ Truitt, Brian (Oct 2, 2013). "'Little Mermaid' star Jodi Benson loves life as Ariel". USA Today. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  16. ^ "Jodi Benson: 25 Years Of Voicing Ariel". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved Jun 17, 2019.
  17. ^ Capcom (2004-04-27). Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. Scene: Closing credits, 0:45 in, cast.

External links[edit]