Samuel E. Wright, the actor who voiced the legendary character "Sebastian" in Disney’s Little Mermaid passed away on Monday (May 24) at the age of 74. Wright’s daughter, Dee Kelly told The Hollywood Reporter Wright battled prostate cancer for three years. “He was the brightest light,” Kelly told the outlet.
Wright, a native of Camden, South Carolina, was a two-time Tony Award nominated actor, making his debut on Broadway in 1971 in Jesus Christ Superstar. He also played in Pippin and starred as "Mufasa" in the Broadway version of The Lion King beginning in 1997.
Wright’s first Tony nomination came in 1984 for his role in the musical The Tap Dance Kid. His second came in 1998 for his work in The Lion King.
On the screen, Wright played "Dizzy Gillespie" in the 1988 Clint Eastwood film Bird. He was also the purple bunch of grapes in the memorable Fruit of the Loom commercials.
Wright’s performance of "Under the Sea" won the 1989 Oscar for best original song. "Kiss the Girl" was nominated for the same award in the same year.
In addition to his acting work, Wright helped found the Hudson Valley Conservatory in New York, a venue for performances and events.
Wright made guest appearances on The Cosby Show and did more voice acting in Dinosaur.
He leaves behind his wife of nearly 49 years Amanda along with their three children, Keely, Sam, and Dee.
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