The little kids who go to see Disney's new animated hit, The Little Mermaid, may not get it, but grown-ups will be amused to find out that evil sea witch Ursula was inspired by the late Divine, the drag queen who stylishly sashayed through such John Waters pictures as Hairspray and Pink Flamingos. John Musker, Mermaid's co-writer and director, says he first planned to model Ursula on Joan Collins's nasty character in ABC's Dynasty but changed his mind after seeing a drawing based on Divine done by animator Rob Minkoff. "All of Waters's films are creepy but funny. What better attitude for the villain than that?" says Minkoff. Ursula originally sported a mohawk, but Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg put the brakes on that. "He thought we were going a little too far," says Musker. "He wanted an appealing ugliness."
MUCH ADO ABOUT POETRY
Flamboyant Sally (Anna) Kirkland, now in England shooting Bullseye with Michael Caine and Roger Moore, is ticked off at the British press for making much ado about her relationship with singer Bob Dylan, above. The two had an affair in the late 1970s, but Sally wants it understood that they now have a "creative working relationship." Dylan let her use two of his songs, "New Pony" and "No Time to Think," in her latest film, High Stakes. He sends her his new songs and she responds with original poems. Sally recently went public with her verse on an L.A. TV cable access show. "I always pictured myself as Elizabeth Barrett Browning."
DELTA'S BIG SHOW
Designing Women's Delta Burke, below, who has been taking grief from the tabloids over her recent weight gain, isn't giving interviews. "I'll let the show speak for itself," she says, referring to the CBS sitcom's Dec. 11 episode. Called "They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?," it was written by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the show's creator, after Delta and she decided to answer all the fat attacks. Burke's character, ex-beauty queen Suzanne Sugar-baker, is the big butt of fat jokes at her high school reunion. As Suzanne, Burke gets to say, "It's not that I want to be fat. My weight's going down right now, but I don't want to feel like I have to be thin in order to be loved and admired." At the taping, the audience gave her a standing ovation. She cried and told them, "Now you all stop that, you're ruining my makeup."