Samuel E Wright, voice of The Little Mermaid’s Sebastian, dies at 74

·1-min read
Samuel E. Wright attends a screening of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in New York in September 2013. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Samuel E. Wright attends a screening of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in New York in September 2013. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Samuel E Wright, the voice actor who played Sebastian in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, has died at 74.

The news was broken by his hometown of Montgomery, New York in a post on Facebook which begins: “Today, the Town of Montgomery mourns the loss of Sam Wright.”

The statement adds: “On top of his passion for the arts and his love for his family, Sam was most known for walking into a room and simply providing PURE JOY to those he interacted with. He loved to entertain, he loved to make people smile and laugh and he loved to love.”

Wright was born on 20 November 1946 in Camden, South Carolina. He began his career on Broadway, and in 1984 was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in The Tap Dance Kid.

He will be widely remembered for providing the voice of Sebastian the crab in Disney’s 1989 adaptation of The Little Mermaid. He provided lead vocals for the songs “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea”, the latter of which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

In 1995, he played the Scarecrow in the Apollo Theater Revival of The Wiz alongside Whitney Houston, Keith David, and Cedric the Entertainer.

Three years later, he was again nominated for a Tony for originating the role of Mufasa in The Lion King, the Broadway adaptation of Disney's animated classic.

Wright’s cause of death has not yet been made public.

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