Even if you wouldn't recognize her on the street, you know her - or at least who she inspired.
Today on my neverending trek around the interwebs to find cool things to share with Moviepilot readers, I found something that made me look at a very old favorite in a new way. I happened to stumble upon a Disney blog full of concept art and in-progress work for beloved films. Among them were some amazing shots of the production behind The Little Mermaid - in particular, the woman whose face and body helped bring Ariel to life.
Her name is Sherri Stoner, and whether you know it or not, her performance probably had a big impact on your childhood.
After seeing this, I did some research (starting with the terribly sophisticated and infallible Wikipedia) to find out more about her. She's primarily a writer and actor, and one of her most notable creative contributions was to two Disney classics:
Stoner served as animation reference model for Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid and for Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Ariel frequently bites her lower lip, and Belle often brushes hair away from her face. Both of these are mannerisms of Stoner's that animators adapted to the characters.
I couldn't find much of Belle, but I've got a lot of Ariel!
Aside from working on-camera as a living animation reference for iconic characters, Stoner is also an accomplished writer, producer and voice actor. Just on the off-chance your childhood didn't involve Ariel or Belle, I bet Stoner's creativity left an impression in a different way:
She was a writer and producer for such 1990s animated shows as Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs. She is probably best known for Animaniacs, for which she created and voiced Slappy Squirrel, a grumpy retired cartoon squirrel. As a producer for Tiny Toon Adventures, Sherri won Emmy awards for Outstanding Animated Program in 1991and 1993.
I love behind-the-scenes coolness, and I love finding hidden treasures (a grotto of them?) even more. I'm so glad the images and video of the real-life Little Mermaid still exist. If you haven't, take a minute to appreciate the real muse behind Ariel and Belle, and the creator of a lot more fun parts of our childhoods. Thank you, Sherri Stoner!
Now enjoy a lot more referential awesomeness!