Ariel’s red hair caused a few problems for The Little Mermaid

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Disney’s classic, The Little Mermaid, conducted an interview with co-director Ron Clements. What was most interesting about the chat was what came to light regarding the hair color of everyone’s favorite underwater princess.

Apparently, Tyco Toys, the company responsible for manufacturing Ariel dolls, was none-too-pleased when told that the character would indeed be a redhead. “They were horrified and they said, ‘All of our research shows that redheaded dolls have never sold. They don’t sell,'” explains Clements of his chat with Tyco Toys. “The truth is, they were so panicky about it, that the very first Ariel dolls that were made, she was not a redhead. She was kind of a strawberry blonde.”

Obviously, Clemens and co-director, John Musker, won the argument and Ariel’s flaming red hair stayed in the movie. It seems unusual that a toy company could potentially hold so much sway over a film, but this was a time when My Little Pony, Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys were big sellers, so you could understand why a toy company would be concerned over a Disney item that might just sit on the shelves. Where they got the info regarding redheaded toys not selling is anyone’s guess, but we have to assume the source is indisputable.

Funnily enough, Ariel and 13 other Disney princesses all made cameo appearances in the 2018 animated hit, Ralph Breaks the Internet. What Disney fans will love is that all these princesses -including Elsa, Belle, Jasmine, Moana, Sleeping Beauty, Tiana, Anna, Pocahontas, and many more – is that they are all brought together at the same time and certainly know how to save the day.

One of Ralph’s characters, Vanellope von Schweetz, teaches the girls how to relax once in a while and be comfortable in sweatpants and hoodies. “No matter how great and iconic all the princesses were and are, you see how Disney has kind of grown and changed and become more inclusive and reflects more our world,” said Vanellope von Schweetz’s voice actress, Sarah Silverman. “It’s why they’re not a relic or dated, because they’re always evolving.”

Although we’ll never know how a blonde Ariel would have fared under the sea, we do know that The Little Mermaid has gone on to become a beloved Disney film and one of the most profitable of all time, having raked in a whopping $211,343,479 worldwide lifetime gross since the release in 1989.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a live-action remake is in the works, with little info right now other than the attachment of director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Mary Poppins Returns) to the project. With live-action remakes of Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and of course the upcoming Mulan, The Lion King, and Aladdin, it seems Disney is hell-bent on remaking every successful film from the vaults.

The timing does seem perfect, as we’re about due for an updated redheaded heroine. When the biggest red hair news today is Kim Kardashian experimenting with red hair coloring, it is not suprising that a live-action Ariel is a far better inspiration for all the gingers currently out there in the world today.

We’ve had Jessica Rabbit, Ron Weasley, Spider-Man’s Mary Jane, and even another Disney princess in the form of Brave’s Merida, but none of them could possibly hold a candle to the awesome Ariel. It’s yet unclear who would play the underwater princess in a live-action remake, but we don’t mind the use of red hair dye if the right shade is found for a talented actress. That said, there are many natural redheads who could be perfect for the part, including:

  • Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals)
  • Sophie Turner (X-Men, Game of Thrones)
  • Eleanor Thomlinson (Poldark)
  • Emma Stone (La La Land, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
  • Lily Cole (Snow White and the Huntsman)
  • Karen Gillan (Jumanji)

Whoever ends up getting picked to portray Ariel on-screen will have big shoes to fill, but if they don’t mind a dip in the ocean and hanging out with lobsters, then they’ll do just fine.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.