Samuel E. Wright, the voice of Sebastian, everyone's favorite singing crab from Disney's "The Little Mermaid," has died. He was 74.
The late actor's daughter, Dee, told The Hollywood Reporter that her father's death came after a three-year battle with prostate cancer and that he died peacefully Monday night in his home in Walden, New York. She called him "the brightest light."
Born in Camden, South Carolina, on Nov. 20, 1946, Wright earned two Tony nominations in his life, one in 1984 for his work in "The Tap Dance Kid" and the other in 1998 for "The Lion King," having originated the role of Mufasa in the Broadway production. He made his Broadway debut in the original cast of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in 1971.
“Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars.” Rest In Peace, Samuel E. Wright | 1946 – 2021— The Lion King - Musical (@TheLionKing) May 25, 2021
Original Broadway Cast, Mufasa. pic.twitter.com/MDuQAZJalZ
On television, Wright's first break came when he starred on "Enos," the spin-off of "The Dukes of Hazzard," from 1980 to 1981. Fans of "The Cosby Show" may also remember him from the season 2 episode titled "Close to Home." There was also the animated series "The Little Mermaid," airing from 1992 to 1994, which was set before the iconic first movie.
As for films, Wright is best known for 1989's "The Little Mermaid." Two of the film's songs -- "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl" -- were nominated for best original song at the 1990 Academy Awards. "Under the Sea" went on to win the Oscar.
"Sebastian has given me what I've always wanted as an actor, and that's immortality," Wright told Entertainment Weekly in 1991. "I know a lot of actors are ashamed to say that, but as far as I'm concerned, that's why I'm in the business. I want the whole world to love me, remember me forever. Otherwise I wouldn't be doing this. This is my mark."
Wright returned for two direct-to-video "Little Mermaid" films: 2000's "The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea" and 2008's "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning."
Having first burst onto the big screen as famed trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie in the Clint Eastwood-directed "Bird" in 1988, Wright also teamed with Disney in 2000 for "Dinosaur."
Wright is survived by longtime wife Amanda Wright and their three children: Keely, Dee and Sam.
The actor's legacy will live on through the various projects he appeared in as well as through the Hudson Valley Conservatory, a performing arts school he co-founded in Walden in 1994. In a statement on Wright's death, the school referred to him as "our beloved leader and mentor."