Samuel E. Wright, Voice of Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid” & Original The Lion King on Broadway Mufasa, Passes Away at 74.
Actor and musician Samuel E Wright, known for his iconic voice role as Sebastian the Crab in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, has died aged 74.
Wright also played multiple roles on Broadway throughout his career, in productions like The Lion King and The Wiz.
His daughter, Dee, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that her father died peacefully at home after battling prostate cancer.
“He was the brightest light,” she told the US publication.
A decades-long arts career
One of Wright’s first Broadway appearances was in Jesus Christ Superstar in the early 1970s, the beginning of more than 25 years on one of the world’s biggest stages.
His 30-year film career saw him voice the wise and lovable Sebastian the Crab in all three of Disney’s The Little Mermaid films from 1989 to 2008, and his classic performance of Under The Sea earned the track an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1990.
Wright told the Los Angeles Times in 1991 that he kept a collection of little red crabs on display at his home in New York, a home he described as “so beautiful you think you’re living in a Disney cartoon”.
“Every time I pass one I genuflect and say, ‘thank you for the house, my kids’ education and the fact that we don’t have to eat cheese grits anymore’,” he told the Times.
He also played the original role of Mufasa in Broadway’s The Lion King in the late 1990s.
His other non-Disney credits include appearances on “Law & Order,” “Simon & Simon” and “Spenser For Hire.” And he played Officer Turk Adams, partner to Officer Enos Strate, in the short-lived “Dukes of Hazzard” spinoff “Enos” in the early 1980s.
The cause of death was not immediately revealed.
Wright’s hometown of Montgomery, N.Y., posted about his passing on Facebook.
“Sam and his family have impacted countless Hudson Valley youth always inspiring them to reach higher and dig deeper to become the best version of themselves. 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,” the post read.