Benson, Henson among 12 honored as Disney Legends

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The Little Mermaid Disney Legends

The Lit­tle Mermaid

Jodi Ben­son, the voice of Ariel from “The Lit­tle Mer­maid,” was among 12 con­trib­u­tors to the Dis­ney legacy who were named and hon­ored Fri­day morn­ing as offi­cial Dis­ney Leg­ends dur­ing the D23 Expo in the Ana­heim Con­ven­tion Cen­ter Arena.

The awards cer­e­mony kicked off the first day of the D23 Expo, hosted by noted TV per­son­al­ity Tom Berg­eron, host of ABC’s Danc­ing with the Stars and America’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos.

From giv­ing voice to some of our most iconic and beloved Dis­ney princesses to bring­ing a smile to mil­lions of tele­vi­sion view­ers every morn­ing for two decades, we are proud to present these 12 men and women with our high­est, most cov­eted honor, The Dis­ney Leg­ends Award,” said Dis­ney pres­i­dent and CEO Bob Iger. “Our newest hon­orees now join this unique and pres­ti­gious cir­cle, which rec­og­nizes those whose incred­i­ble tal­ents and out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions have had a last­ing, mean­ing­ful impact on Disney’s great legacy.”

Ben­son, an acclaimed voice actress and soprano singer, pro­vided both the singing and speak­ing voices for Disney’s Princess Ariel in The Lit­tle Mer­maid and its sequels and TV Series. For more than 20 years, Ben­son has voiced Ariel in film, TV, video games, toys and at Dis­ney Parks. She also starred as Sam in Disney’s Enchanted and voiced Bar­bie in the hit Disney·Pixar films Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, plus Weebo in the film com­edy Flub­ber.

The late Jim Hen­son, an Emmy Award-winning TV pro­ducer and Oscar-nominated film direc­tor, was an Amer­i­can pup­peteer and the cre­ator of global phe­nom­e­non The Mup­pets. The cross-cultural appeal of The Mup­pets pro­pelled tele­vi­sion shows like Sesame Street, The Mup­pet Show and Frag­gle Rock to new heights. He also pro­duced the car­toon series Jim Henson’s Mup­pet Babies. The suc­cess of these series led Hen­son to explore such fea­ture films as The Mup­pet Movie, The Great Mup­pet Caper and The Mup­pets Take Man­hat­tan, as well as the tech­no­log­i­cally ground-breaking fan­tasy clas­sics The Dark Crys­tal and Labyrinth. The Mup­pet legacy con­tin­ued with such pop­u­lar Dis­ney films as The Mup­pet Christ­mas Carol and Mup­pet Trea­sure Island, as well as the upcom­ing The Mup­pets, pre­mier­ing this November.

Linda Larkin is a cel­e­brated actress and pop­u­lar voice per­former best known for pro­vid­ing the voice of Princess Jas­mine in the Dis­ney ani­mated fea­ture Aladdin, its sequels, spin-offs and tele­vi­sion series. She has also been vocally fea­tured in the Dis­ney ani­mated tele­vi­sion series House of Mouse and the pop­u­lar King­dom Hearts video game.

Paige O’Hara is a Broad­way actress and singer best known for pro­vid­ing the voice of Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, its sequels, series and games. She also starred as Angela in the Dis­ney film hit Enchanted. O’Hara has also been vocally fea­tured in the Dis­ney video game King­dom Hearts and as Belle on the 64th Annual Acad­emy Awards.

Anika Noni Rose is a renowned actress and singer who pro­vided the voice of Princess Tiana in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. In addi­tion, some of her Broad­way, tele­vi­sion and film cred­its include her Tony Award-winning per­for­mance in Car­o­line, or Change, the block­buster fea­ture film Dream­girls, and tele­vi­sion series includ­ing The Starter Wife and The Good Wife.

Lea Salonga is a cel­e­brated actress and singer who pro­vided the singing voice for two Dis­ney Princesses: Jas­mine in Aladdin, and Fa Mulan in Mulan and Mulan II. In addi­tion to her record­ing and tele­vi­sion career, Salonga’s vast Broad­way cred­its are high­lighted by her per­for­mance as Kim in Miss Saigon, which gar­nered her numer­ous awards, includ­ing a Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Crit­ics’ Cir­cle and The­ater World Awards.

Also hon­ored were Bar­ton “Bo” Boyd, Regis Philbin, Jack and Bonita Wrather, Ray Wat­son and Guy Williams.

Each hon­oree receives a two-foot-tall bronze Dis­ney Leg­ends sculp­ture that sig­ni­fies the imag­i­na­tion, cre­ativ­ity and magic they have brought to the com­pany. Dis­ney Leg­ends Award recip­i­ents also par­tic­i­pate in a hand­print cer­e­mony, and their bronzed prints will be dis­played in the Dis­ney Leg­ends Plaza at the company’s Bur­bank, Cal­i­for­nia headquarters.

The first Dis­ney Leg­end, actor Fred Mac­Mur­ray (The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Pro­fes­sor, The Hap­pi­est Mil­lion­aire), was named in 1987. Includ­ing this year’s hon­orees, a total of 237 Dis­ney Leg­ends have been named. Past Dis­ney Leg­ends include Tim Allen, Robin Williams, Julie Andrews, Howard Ash­man, Annette Funi­cello, Peter Jen­nings, Angela Lans­bury, Steve Mar­tin, Alan Menken, Hay­ley Mills, Fess Parker, Sir Tim Rice, Dick Van Dyke and Bar­bara Walters.

At the inau­gural D23 Expo in 2009, the Leg­ends Awards cer­e­mony, which hon­ored Robin Williams, Beat­rice Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McLana­han, Betty White, Tony Anselmo, Bill Farmer, Harry Archi­nal, Don Iwerks and Leota Toombs Thomas, was pre­sented to thou­sands of Dis­ney fans for the first time.

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