7 Classic Disney Characters You Had No Idea Were Modelled On Real People

3. Ursula Is Drag Queen Divine

Disney/ Automat Pictures

The Character: More memorable than Ariel, however, is Ursula. The Little Mermaid's big bad, she heralded in a new age of Disney baddie who were as visual interesting as they were characterwise. Vengeful and desperate to take over the sea, she uses Ariel's teenage dreams in her plot against King Triton. A major expansion of minor part of the original story, lending an antagonistic streak to a previously ambivalent character, time and again it is her memorable design that keeps her popularity high.

The Real Person: That distinctive look is an octopussed version of drag singer Divine, who rose to prominence in the seventies and was later named Drag Queen Of The Century by People Magazine. This is one of the more overt inspirations, thanks to Divine's unmistakable look; big hair, heavy make-up, even the big chin are all translated across. One year before the film was released, Divine died, so never got to see his most enduring tribute.


Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.