Reports: Samuel E. Wright, Tony-nominated voice of Sebastian in The Little Mermaid, dies at 74

Two-time Tony Award nominee Samuel E. Wright, best known for voicing Sebastian the crab in Disney’s 1989 animated musical “The Little Mermaid,” has died at age 74, according to reports. 

Wright’s daughter Dee told The Hollywood Reporter he died Monday in his sleep after a three-year battle with prostate cancer.

“We are saddened by the passing of Samuel E. Wright, who voiced Sebastian in The Little Mermaid,” the official Twitter page for Disney confirmed. “His iconic performance as Sebastian will always be remembered for the charm and heart Wright brought to every line and lyric.”

The official Facebook page for Montgomery, New York, the town in which Wright resided with his family, mourned the actor in a lengthy tribute Tuesday, highlighting his work co-founding local performing arts school Hudson Valley Conservatory. The school also mourned Wright on social media. 

“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 post read. “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.” 

USA TODAY reached out to Wright’s daughter, Hudson Valley Conservatory and the town of Montgomery for confirmation.

The actor and singer also played Mufasa in the original cast of Broadway’s “The Lion King,” for which he was nominated for best featured actor in a musical at the 1998 Tony Awards, and William in “The Tap Dance Kid,” also a role that sent him to the Tonys.

Broadway’s “Lion King: The Musical,” still running since Wright and the original cast first entertained audiences in 1997, changed its marquee Tuesday to pay tribute to the late actor.

“Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars,” the show’s official social media accounts wrote, quoting a line from his character, Mufasa.

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