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

When Wright wasn’t featured on the big and little screens, he appeared on stage in theater productions like 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Pippin'

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A legendary voice has passed on.

Samuel E. Wright, who gave voice to Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid, has passed away. The Walden, New York native transitioned on Monday at the age of 74, per Deadline.

“Today, the Town of Montgomery mourns the loss of Sam Wright. Pictured here with Town Supervisor Brian Maher and his brother Patrick in Walden in the early 1990’s. Sam was an inspiration to us all and along with his family established the Hudson Valley Conservatory,” captioned a Facebook post by Town of Montgomery alongside an image of a young Wright.

Samuel E. Wright
Actor Samuel Wright attends Disney’s The Little Mermaid special screening at Walter Reade Theater on September 21, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

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.

The greater Town of Montgomery Community mourns together today. As we say goodbye to a pillar in our community and ask everyone to share a memory and help us celebrate the life of this great man.”

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Aside from voicing the character in The Little Mermaid sequels and a TV series, he sang two of the movie’s most popular songs, “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.” Both were Oscar-nominated but “Under the Sea” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Wright also appeared on the TV series Enos, The Cosby Show, and All My Children.

Fans on social media celebrated the actor.

“I am very heartbroken to hear that Samuel E. Wright, the talented actor best known for being the longtime voice of Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid”, has died at the age of 74. Thank you for showing us that life is the bubbles under the sea. We will dearly miss you, Sam,” posted a user.

“Very sad to learn of the passing of theatre veteran & voice actor Samuel E. Wright, who gave life to Mufasa on Broadway & Sebastian in The Little Mermaid. Hope he’s named a Disney Legend soon. It’s overdue,” added another.

When he wasn’t featured on the big and little screens, he appeared on stage in theater productions such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Pippin. He also originated the part of Mufasa in the Tony-award-winning Lion King musical. He has done over 18 Broadway shows in total, per a 2013 interview with Corine Cohen posted to YouTube.

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During the interview, the actor talked about the acting school he opened in Walden, New York for young performers. He got into teaching after his retirement.

“That’s what my passion is now teaching kids and giving all back what they gave to me with The Little Mermaid,” he said.

When asked if he still had an interest in performing he said an actor never says no but followed up with: “I’m a new grandfather now,” said Wright with a smile. “And I have my own little one to look after. I’d much rather be home than eating bagels in New York all day long and doing a show.”

The actor is survived by his wife and three children.

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