October 11, 2017 at 12:45pm

Jodi Benson '93 continues to be a fixture at Disney events

Jodi Benson

Millikin University alumna Jodi Benson '93 is best known for providing both the speaking and the singing voice of Disney's Princess Ariel in "The Little Mermaid" and its sequel, prequel and television series spinoff.

In a recent editorial from the Herald & Review covering the top 100 reasons why the central Illinois region is special, the Decatur-based newspaper writes, "Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' franchise owes credit to Millikin University for some of its voices. Jodi Benson was the first."

Benson came to Millikin from Rockford, Ill., in 1979, and left in spring 1981 after landing a role in a touring show. Her first Broadway role was 1983's "Marilyn," followed by "Smile" in late 1986. She returned to Millikin in 1993, completing her degree.

Benson continues to perform Ariel and performed the bubbly voice of Barbie in Disney/Pixar's Best Picture Golden Globe winner "Toy Story 2" and Academy Award winner "Toy Story 3."

Benson also created the voice of "Thumbelina" in 1992, a Don Bluth animated feature film with songs by Barry Manilow. 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."

In August 2011, Benson was honored as a Disney Legend alongside fellow Disney Princess voice actresses Paige O'Hara, Lea Salonga and Anika Noni Rose. The Disney Legends awards began in 1987. Benson is one of 275 people honored so far.

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