The Obsession with Mermaids in the Early 20th Century

The live-action version of The Little Mermaid has made $118 Million so far in its opening weekend. It may herald another bump in the popularity of mermaids, joining other periods of mermaid-mania from history, going back thousands of years. In ancient times, it was the allure of the mythological tales of beautiful and magical half-human-half-fish creatures among many terrifying terrifying sea monsters. In the more modern era, it is entertainment, feeding a fantasy of sexy women and the allure of the sea. In 1906, the show Neptune's Daughter debuted at New York's Hippodrome, featuring an 8,000-gallon tank full of underwater dancers, which proved both fascinating and charming to audiences. Mermaid mania got another kick when Champion swimmer Annette Kellerman starred in silent films about mermaids, and brought women's participation in swimming into the modern era. Read about the early entertainment media representations of mermaids at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia)

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