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Samuel E. Wright, The Voice Behind The Beloved “Little Mermaid” Character Sebastian, Has Died

The actor was also nominated for two Tony awards for his performances in The Tap Dance Kid and The Lion King.

Posted on May 25, 2021, at 7:35 p.m. ET

Rw / RW/MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx

Samuel E. Wright in 2013

Samuel E. Wright, the actor who voiced Sebastian the Crab in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, has died. He was 74.

Wright’s daughter Dee confirmed the news to the Hollywood Reporter, saying he died peacefully in his home on Monday after being diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago.

While Wright was best known for voicing Sebastian in the 1989 animated Disney film — his performance of “Under the Sea” helped earn the film an Oscar for Best Original Song — he also guest-starred on TV shows like The Cosby Show, All My Children, and Law & Order.

Born in Camden, South Carolina, on Nov. 20, 1946, the actor was also a Broadway veteran. He performed in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1971 and played Mufasa in The Lion King beginning in 1997. Wright’s first Tony nomination came in 1984 for his performance in The Tap Dance Kid, followed by another nomination in 1998 for The Lion King.

“He was the brightest light,” Wright’s daughter told the Hollywood Reporter.

The town of Montgomery, New York, posted on their Facebook page about Wright’s death, saying, “Today, the Town of Montgomery mourns the loss of Sam Wright. Sam was an inspiration to us all and along with his family established the Hudson Valley Conservatory. 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.”

In a 1991 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Wright said, “Maybe not every actor would say this, but if I didn’t want to be immortal, I wouldn’t be acting. I do want to make my little mark on the world.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.