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Samuel E. Wright, voiced Sebastian in ‘The Little Mermaid,’ dies at 74

The veteran actor died peacefully Monday night at his home in Walden, New York, after a three-year battle with prostate cancer.

Actor Samuel Wright attends Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” special screening at Walter Reade Theater on September 21, 2013 in New York City.
Actor Samuel Wright attends Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” special screening at Walter Reade Theater in 2013 in New York City.
Getty

Actor Samuel E. Wright. who voiced the playful Sebastian the Crab in the 1989 Disney animated feature “The Little Mermaid,” has died. He was 74.

According to hollywoodreporter.com the veteran actor died peacefully Monday night at his home in Walden, New York, after a three-year battle with prostate cancer.

In a loving tribute to her father on Facebook, Wright’s daughter Dee Kelly wrote, in part: “Please continue to wrap us in love and please please keep talking about my daddy. Speak his name today, tell his stories, make someone smile by sharing something you learned from him. That is what he would want.”

Wright’s fun-loving take on the calypso-infused “Under the Sea” helped propel the song to an Academy Award for best original song, beating out his second solo effort from the film, ‘Kiss the Girl.” “Under the Sea” also won Grammy Award for best song written for visual media a year later.

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” featured Jodi Benson as the voice of Ariel, and Samuel E. Wright as the voice of Sebastian the Crab.
Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” featured Jodi Benson as the voice of Ariel, and Samuel E. Wright as the voice of Sebastian the Crab.
Disney

Wright’s stage credits include roles on Broadway in “The Lion King,” originating the role of Mufasa, for which he received a Tony Award nomination; “Pippin,” “The Tap Dance Kid” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Film credits include “Bird” (in which he portrayed jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie, and two “Mermaid” direct-to-video sequels. On television, Wright made guest appearances on series such as “Enos,” “Ball Four,” “Simon and Simon” and “The Cosby Show.”

The South Carolina-born Wright is survived by Amanda Wright, his wife of 49 years, and their children, Dee, Sam and Keely.

My beautiful, strong, loving daddy is off to his next adventure. My heart has so much to say but I’m still processing...

Posted by Dee Kelly on Tuesday, May 25, 2021