Remembering: The Deaf Little Mermaid

Remember who else was on the show?

Walt Disney Studios’ The Little Mermaid was a box office hit when it was released in theaters in 1989. This launched a television series in 1993 with more adventures of Ariel’s and her friends before the movie. The usual gang headlined the show: Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian, and Scuttle along with the mischievous Flotsam and Jetsam and the diabolical Ursula.

On the show, we are introduced to Ariel’s new friends-one of whom is a deaf Latina mermaid by the name of Gabriella. She was a character inspired by a deaf fan of the show. Gabriella had an octopus sidekick named Ollie, just like Ariel has Flounder. Ollie the octopus interpreted everything Gabriella signed on the show for the hearing viewers.

Ariel met Gabriella when Gabriella and Ollie saw her singing, then duo introduced themselves. Gabriella expressed that she wished to sing like Ariel and Ariel wished for dance skills, so they visited the Magical Wishing Starfish. The girls were disappointed to find out that the Magical Wishing Starfish was a phony, until Ariel says Gabriella can sing just fine through Sign Language and Gabriella teaches her how to dance. They both perform the duet “Daring to Dance.”

Perhaps that’s why Ariel was ok with losing her voice in the movie?

Gabriella appears on Season 1, Episodes “Wish Upon a Starfish” and “Ariel’s Treasures”

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