Paige O'Hara

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Paige O'Hara
Born Donna Paige Helmintoller
(1956-05-10) May 10, 1956 (age 60)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
Education Nova High School
Alma mater Parkway Middle School of the Arts
Occupation Actress, singer, painter
Years active 1983–present
Notable work Original voice of Princess Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Spouse(s) Michael Piontek
Awards Disney Legend (2011)

Donna Paige O'Hara (born Donna Paige Helmintoller; May 10, 1956)[1] is an American actress, singer, and painter. O'Hara began her career as a Broadway actress in 1983 when she portrayed Ellie May Chipley in the musical Showboat. In 1991, she made her motion picture debut in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, in which she voiced the film's heroine, Belle. Following the critical and commercial success of Beauty and the Beast, O'Hara reprised her role as Belle in the film's two direct-to-video follow-ups, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas and Belle's Magical World.

Early life[edit]

Donna Paige Helmintoller was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and attended Nova High School in Davie, Florida and Parkway Middle School of The Arts which is also in Florida. She performed in shows with the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre.

O'Hara began acting at the age of four, attending acting classes in her home state of Florida.[2] It was not until she was 12 years old that she developed an interest in singing and enrolled in a performing arts high school.[2] O'Hara cites American actress and singer Judy Garland as one of her idols.[3]


Broadway and stage[edit]

O'Hara made her first appearance on the Broadway stage as Ellie May Chipley in the revival of Showboat in 1983 starring Donald O'Connor. She repeated the role for the Houston Grand Opera's 1989 production and continued with them when the show was moved to the Cairo Opera House in Egypt. Continuing her legacy as Ellie, she also sang the part on the 1989 Grammy-nominated recording of the musical with Jerry Hadley, Frederica von Stade, and Teresa Stratas, conducted by John McGlinn on the Angel EMI label. Her other American stage credits include the title role in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Broadway and national tour) and Ado Annie in a national tour of Oklahoma directed by William Hammerstein.

Internationally, O'Hara has played the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (Australia).

In April 2011, O'Hara played the role of Judy Garland in "From Gumm to Garland: JUDY, The Musical" at the Tempe Center for the Arts in Tempe, Arizona.

Transition to film and Beauty and the Beast[edit]

A longtime fan of Walt Disney Pictures,[3] O'Hara auditioned for Beauty and the Beast at the age of 30[4] after reading about the film in The New York Times.[2]

O'Hara also starred as Venus in the BBC's recorded broadcast of the live presentation of Kurt Weill's "One Touch of Venus" and in tribute to her Belle character from Beauty and the Beast, she portrayed Angela, a character in a fictional soap opera, for Disney's 2007 live action/traditional 2-D animated movie Enchanted.

For her work as Belle, O'Hara was honored with a Disney Legend Award on August 19, 2011.[5]

As of 2011, O'Hara was replaced by Julie Nathanson as the voice of Belle due to her voice changing significantly over the course of twenty years.[6] Despite this, she still paints Belle for Disney Fine Art and also continues to do promotional appearances for Disney.[6][7][8] In 2016, O'Hara appeared at numerous special screenings of Beauty and the Beast in honor of the film's 25th anniversary.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Paige O'Hara Pics". All Star Pics. Lucy Media. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Interview With Paige O'Hara, The Voice Of Belle In "Beauty and the Beast"". Disney Dreaming. Unrivaled Media Group, LLC. October 5, 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Benedictus, Leo (April 30, 2012). "How we made: Don Hahn and Paige O'Hara on Beauty and the Beast". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Huver, Scott (May 30, 2012). ""Beauty and the Beast 3D" Gives Original Star Paige O'Hara a Whole New Perspective". NBC New York. NBCUniversal, Inc. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Photo Flash: Lea Salonga, Anika Noni Rose, Paige O'Hara et al. Honored at D23 Expo
  6. ^ a b "Belle still tolls for actress O'Hara". 
  7. ^ Brigante, Ricky (July 30, 2013). "Full 2013 D23 Expo schedule revealed with Walt Disney Studios celebs, Imagineering & Parks panels, Marvel meet-and-greets". Inside the Magic. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "New Fantasyland Grand Opening Celebration at Walt Disney World Resort". Disney Parks Blog. July 30, 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Mallenbaum, Carly (May 10, 2016). "8 things you never knew about 'Beauty and the Beast'". USA Today. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  10. ^ McGovern, Joe (August 16, 2016). "Beauty and the Beast getting special 25th anniversary screening ahead of New York Film Festival". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 

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