Samuel E. Wright, the native of South Carolina who popularly voiced “Sebastian the Crab” in “The Little Mermaid” of Disney and had an amazing acting career which spanned five decades has died. He died at the age of 74.
While announcing his death, Wright’s family said he died recently in New York after a three-year battle with prostate cancer.
On Facebook, Dee Kelly, one of Wright’s daughters wrote: “My beautiful, strong, loving daddy is off to his next adventure.
“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.”
Wright was born in Camden, South Carolina, in 1948 and made his acting debut while he was a student at South Carolina State University in the 1960s. According to the school, Wright helped launch an acting department.
Also, Wright featured in shows like Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke” and the Greek tragedy “Medea.”
He moved to New York City in 1968 to try stage acting but he landed roles in over 18 Broadway productions. He replaced Ben Vereen in “Pippin” and became an original cast member of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He was nominated twice for Tony awards: in 1984 for “The Tap Dance Kid,” and in 1998 as the original “Mufasa” in “The Lion King.”
He co-founded the Hudson Valley Conservatory, a performing arts school in Walden, New York in 1984. The organization announced the creation of a scholarship in Wright’s memory on its Facebook page, and said it was “overwhelmed with the love being sent our way.”
In 1989,he received a role that introduced him — or at least his voice — to new generations: that of “Sebastian the Crab” in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” He received the best original song Grammy award for “Under the Sea,” which also attained double platinum status.