Jodi Marie Marzorati Benson (born October 10, 1961) is an American actress and singer, best known for her starring role as Ariel in Disney's 1989 highly-successful animated film, The Little Mermaid, beating voice actress Melissa Fahn after several callback auditions.
In 1989, Jodi Benson (working as a Broadway star at the time) made her theatrical debut as Ariel in the The Little Mermaid. The filmmakers felt it necessary to have both Ariel's speaking and singing voice played by the same person and therefore considered Benson a perfect candidate. Benson also briefly voiced Vanessa (Ursula's alter-ego) on behalf of Pat Carroll.
Bensons' vocal talents were given critical acclaim from a wide variety of film critics. It was for this film that she recorded her signature song "Part of Your World", which audiences around the world have grown to know and love.
The success of The Little Mermaid spawned an animated TV series in the mid-90's, followed by two direct-to-video sequels (the first in 2000 and the second in 2008). Benson reprises her role as Ariel in all Disney-related media, including the animated television series House of Mouse (in which she also voiced Belle from Beauty and the Beast on behalf of Paige O'Hara).
Benson is also famous for portraying several other Disney characters from various films and television series, including Weebo in Flubber, Barbie in Toy Story 2 and 3, Helen of Troy in the Hercules TV series and Zero to Hero, Lady in Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure and Anita in 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure. In 2007, Benson even landed a supporting role as Sam in Enchanted, which remains one of Benson's few live-action film roles to-date and her only Disney-related one.
In August 2011, Benson finally became a Disney Legend.