Actor Samuel E. Wright, who is best known for providing the voice of Sebastian the crab in the 1989 Disney animated classic “The Little Mermaid,” died on Monday at the age of 74.
Wright’s death was officially announced on the Facebook page of Montgomery, New York, where he lived for many years.
The actor’s daughter, Dee Kelly, told The Hollywood Reporter that Wright had battled prostate cancer for three years.
“He was the brightest light,” she said.
Although the character of Sebastian gave Wright his pop-culture cachet, he had a long career on Broadway, where he starred in musicals like “Pippin,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Lion King,” and in Hollywood, where he was a character actor in TV shows like “All My Children” and “The Cosby Show,” and in films like “Bird,” Clint Eastwood’s Charlie Parker biopic.
But Wright’s most famous role didn’t require anything but his voice and singing ability.
As Sebastian, Wright introduced two of the film’s Oscar-nominated songs, “Under The Sea” (the winner) and “Kiss The Girl.”
Originally, the crab was supposed to sound like a stuffy Brit until lyricist Howard Ashman suggested a Caribbean accent instead.
Although many people assumed Sebastian’s accent was Jamaican, Wright said it was actually Trinidadian. He recorded two reggae albums as Sebastian.
Wright also played the crusty crustacean in “Little Mermaid” sequels and also provided a voice in the 2000 movie “Dinosaur.”
Kelly celebrated her father’s life with a Facebook post on Tuesday. “My beautiful, strong, loving daddy is off to his next adventure,” she wrote.
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