Samuel E. Wright dies at 74, Disney pays tribute to the Lion King actor

Image of Samuel E. Wright.
Actor Samuel E. Wright passed away in his home. Pic credit: MediaPunch / BACKGRID

Fans were devastated to hear that actor Samuel E. Wright has passed away at age 74. Wright was well-known for voicing the Trinidadian crab Sebastian in Disney’s 1989 animated musical The Little Mermaid.

He continued to voice the character in further projects up until 2008, such as; Sebastian’s Caribbean Jamboree, Little Mermaid 2: Under the Sea, and Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning.

In addition to those projects, he lent his voice to the 2000 Disney movie Dinosaur and made appearances in the popular series The Cosby Show and Law & Order. Wright also originated the role of Mufasa in Broadway’s The Lion King, which features music by Elton John.

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How did Samuel E. Wright die?

Wright’s daughter named Dee shared with The Hollywood Reporter that her father passed away earlier this week, on Monday night, at his home in New York. His passing came after a battle with prostate cancer that lasted three years. Dee described him as “the brightest light.”

Throughout his life, Wright had a long-term marriage to his wife, Amanda. Together, they have three kids.

In addition to his acting work, the talented actor and his wife founded the Hudson Valley Conservatory. The conservatory has been offering “classes in acting, music and dance for over twenty years.”

The drama school shared their condolences on their Facebook page, announcing that they have started a scholarship in the actor’s name.

They wrote, “To honor the life and continue the mission of our beloved leader and mentor, the New Rose Theatre Group will be starting The Samuel E Wright Scholarship Fund. This fund will be used to support the children, school and community of young artists he created at the Hudson Valley Conservatory.”

How did Disney and fans react to Samuel E. Wright death?

Wright’s collaborators and fans have taken to social media to share their memories and condolences. Many have praised him for his work in The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, identifying the two as essential parts of their childhood.

Fan and news anchor John-Carlos Estrada shared a clip from the song Kiss the Girl in The Little Mermaid, sung by Wright. Along with the video, they wrote, “You’ve gotta kiss the girl! Rest in peace actor Samuel E. Wright. He’s best known as the voice of Sebastian the crab in ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Wright died at 74.”

Actor and singer Emily Clark praised Wright’s work, sharing, “There was this whole album Samuel E. Wright did as Sebastian when I was a kid that I used to be obsessed with. To originate Disney roles on film and Broadway… man, what an icon.”

Lion King the Musical also chimed in. They tweeted the popular Mufasa quote, “Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars,” while recognizing the late actor as an original cast member.

Samuel E. Wright is survived by his wife and three children.

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