Samuel E Wright, voice of Sebastian in 'The Little Mermaid', has died aged 74

The actor might be best known for his voice role, but he had an extensive Broadway career and was nominated for two Tony Awards

Actor and singer Samuel E Wright has died aged 74 after a three-year battle with prostate cancert. Walter McBride / WireImage
Actor and singer Samuel E Wright has died aged 74 after a three-year battle with prostate cancert. Walter McBride / WireImage

Samuel E Wright, the actor who voiced the lobster Sebastian and sang Under the Sea in The Little Mermaid, has died aged 74.

The news of his death was shared by his daughter Dee, who said he fought prostate cancer for three years. “He was the brightest light,” she said.

The news was also confirmed in a Facebook post by the page of Montgomery, a town in New York, which paid tribute to the actor, calling him an "inspiration to us all".

“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,” the post reads. “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.”

Wright was born in Camden, South Carolina on November 20, 1946. He broke into the entertainment industry in 1971 when he was part of the original Broadway cast for Jesus Christ Superstar. He continued to work extensively on Broadway and was nominated for two Tony Awards (Best Featured Actor in a Musical for The Tap Dance Kid in 1984 and Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Mufasa in The Lion King in 1998).

In 1989, he took on the role of Sebastian the Crab in The Little Mermaid and performed Under the Sea, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song. He also performed Kiss the Girl, which was nominated in the same category.

Wright later recorded reggae-infused albums for Walt Disney Records as Sebastian and also voiced other characters in the sequels to the animated film.

Wright was no stranger to TV, as he also made appearances on The Cosby Show, Simon & Simon and Spenser: For Hire, and he did more voice work on 2000 live-action film Dinosaur.

Wright is survived by wife Amanda and three children Keely, Dee and Sam.

Updated: May 26, 2021 10:44 AM

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