Two-time Tony-nominated actor, Samuel E. Wright, who loaned his Trinidadian-accented voice to the Sebastian the Crab character in the 1989 film The Little Mermaid, has died.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that the 74-year-old died on Monday (May 24) at his Walden, New York home. His daughter Dee Kelly told the outlet he had battled prostate cancer for three years.
“My beautiful, strong, loving daddy is off to his next adventure,” Kelly wrote in a tribute on Facebook, CBS News reports. “My heart has so much to say but I’m still processing the fact that the light that was and is my daddy will not be able to physically be here with me.”
She added, “Please continue to wrap us in love and please, please keep talking about my daddy. Speak his name today, tell his stories, make someone smile by sharing something you learned from him. That is what he would want. Today we celebrate Samuel E Wright, my daddy.”
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Born on Nov. 20, 1946, in Camden, South Carolina, Wright made his Broadway debut in 1971 in Jesus Christ Superstar, and had a lead role in the 1972-77 production of Pippin. In 1984, he earned his first Tony nomination for his portrayal as a stern father in the musical The Tap Dance Kid. Before taking on his fun-loving sea character in the Disney film, Wright also appeared as the jazz legend, Dizzy Gillespie in Clint Eastwood’s Bird in 1988.
Teaming up with Walt Disney Records, the multi-talented actor recorded albums as Sebastian and later returned as King Triton’s courtier for the Little Mermaid prequel for CBS from 1992-94, and the sequel The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea.
In 1997, he took on the role as Mufasa in the Broadway adaptation of The Lion King. He earned his second Tony nomination for this role in 1998.
He is survived by his wife, Amanda and their children, Keely, Dee and Sam.