Wright, Samuel E. Sebastian The Crab from "The Little Mermaid" died at age of 74
Samuel E. Wright, whose Oscar-winning performance as Sebastian the crab in Disney's The Little Mermaid includes the song "Under the Sea," died of prostate cancer Wednesday at his home in Walden, New York. He was 74 years old at the time.
His death was revealed on the town of Montgomery, New York's Facebook page.
“Sam was an inspiration to us all, and he founded the Hudson Valley Conservatory with his family,” the tribute reads. “Sam and his family have inspired numerous Hudson Valley youngsters to aim higher and dig deeper in order to become the best version of themselves. Sam was known for entering into a room and simply giving PURE JOY to anyone he engaged with, in addition to his passion for the arts and his love for his family. He loved to entertain people, to make them laugh and smile, and to love.”
Wright's extensive Broadway credits begin with his multiple roles (apostle, leper, reporter) in the original 1971 production of Jesus Christ Superstar, for which he is best known as the voice of the Jamaican crab who serves as King Triton's advisor and sings one of the most beloved songs in the Disney canon. In 1974, he took over as the Leading Player in the successful musical Pippin, replacing Ben Vereen.
Wright had also appeared on Broadway in Over Here!, The Tap Dance Kid (for which he received his first of two Tony Award nominations), Welcome to the Club, and, in 1991, the popular Lincoln Center Theater production of Mule Bone by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, with music by Taj Mahal.
Wright received his second Tony nomination in 1997 for his performance as Mufasa in the Broadway version of The Lion King.
In 1976, Wright made his television debut as a series regular on Ball Four, a baseball comedy starring Jim Bouton, and in 1980, he costarred with Sonny Shroyer in the Dukes of Hazzard spin-off sitcom Enos as Officer Turk Adams. Acting roles on All My Children, The Cosby Show, Spencer For Hire, and Jonny Zero followed. In Clint Eastwood's Charlie Parker movie Bird, he played jazz great Dizzy Gillespie in 1988.
The next year, he landed his trademark part as the scene-stealing crab in Disney's The Little Mermaid, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. Given the film's outstanding song to perform, Wright sang the impossible-to-forget "Under the Sea" with a reggae lilt that gave voice to one of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's most recognized and beloved tunes.
Take a look at the video below to see what's going on under the sea. Wright also performed Mermaid's "Kiss the Girl," which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.
Wright would reprise the part in a number of sequels and spin-offs, including the 1992-94 TV series, video shorts including Sebastian's Caribbean Jamboree (1991), Disney's The Little Mermaid 2 (2000), House of Mouse (2001), and The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (his final credit) (2008).
In the live-action/computer-animated hybrid picture Dinosaur, Wright voiced another Disney character in 2000. Wright played Kron as the imperialistic, harsh leader of the survivalist Iguanadon herd, contrasting his friendly Sebastian personality.