Samuel E. Wright, the actor and singer whose voice was heard by millions as Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid, has passed away. The news was broken by the official Facebook page for Wright's hometown of Montgomery, New York, per TMZ. A cause of death wasn't revealed, but the Town of Montgomery honored Wright with a statement included with the post. He was 74 years old.
"Today, the Town of Montgomery mourns the loss of Sam Wright," the post read, including a photo of Samuel E. Wright with Town Supervisor Brian Maher and his brother Patrick in Walden in the 1990s. "Sam was an inspiration to us all and along with his family established the Hudson Valley Conservatory. 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."
The statement added: "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."
Born on Nov. 20, 1946, Wright was nominated for a Tony Award in 1984 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, based on her performance in The Tap Dance Kid. More than a decade later, he'd be nominated again for the same award for playing Mufasa in the Broadway adaptation of the Disney animated movie The Lion King. His stage work also includes playing the Scarecrow in The Wiz at the Apollo Theater in 1995 alongside Whitney Houston, Keith David, and Cedric the Entertainer.
Of course, Wright is perhaps best known as Sebastian in The Little Mermaid, a singing crab with a truly unique voice like no other. He also provided the lead vocals for the memorable songs "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl." He reprised the role multiple times in the years since in the direct-to-video sequels Sebastian's Caribbean Jamboree, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, and The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning. Wright would also voice Sebastian in the animated series adaptation in the early 90s along with various other Disney shows and video games.
Daveed Diggs will voice Sebastian in the live-action reboot of The Little Mermaid that's currently in the works at Netflix. When the project was announced, many fans of the original animated movie campaigned for Wright to reprise the role. This was because of a viral video featuring Wright singing "Under the Sea" for his fans, showing he hadn't lost a step with his singing. Because the voice is so iconic, a lot of fans were hoping Wright would return to voice Sebastian once again, even if the rest of the cast was different.
Our thoughts go out to Wright's loved ones feeling the loss of his death at this painful time. May he rest in peace as his memory lives on. This news comes to us from TMZ.