Beloved actor and singer Samuel E. Wright has died at the age of 74. Wright was known most for his voice work as everyone’s favorite crustacean character Sebastian in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, providing lead vocals on the Academy Award-winning song “Under the Sea.”
Born in South Carolina, Wright began his career on the Broadway stage, performing in the 1971 adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar. He has credits in shows like The Cosby Show and All My Children. From 1980-81, he co-starred in Enos, a spin-off to The Dukes of Hazzard.
Disney gave Wright his biggest platform, however, with the role of Sebastian appearing in all three Little Mermaid movies, three Little Mermaid video games, and countless appearances on various Disney shows such as House of Mouse and Mickeypalooza. Wright also voiced the role of Kron in Dinosaur in 2000. Wright’s close relation with Disney even extended to his roots on the Broadway stage, when he portrayed the original role of Mufasa in the theatre adaptation of The Lion King, for which he received a nomination for a Best Featured Actor in a Musical at the 1998 Tony Awards.
News of his death comes from the Facebook page of Montgomery, New York, where Wright lived until his passing. The post honored his life, saying: “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.”