Tony-nominated actor Samuel E. Wright, the voice of Sebastian from The Little Mermaid and Mufasa from the Broadway’s The Lion King, has died. He was 74.

Samuel Edward Wright was born November 20, 1946 in Camden, South Carolina. He died May 24, 2021 in Montgomery, New York, succumbing to prostate cancer.

Wright was well known on Broadway and for his voicework. He was in the original cast of Jesus Christ Superstar as a leper. He earned Tony nominations for his roles as William Sheridan in The Tap Dance Kid (1983) as well as Mufasa in Disney‘s The Lion King (1997). He appeared in Pippin; hee voiced Kron the Iguadon in Disney’s Dinosaur.

In Enos, the short-lived spin-off of The Dukes of Hazzard, he played Enos’ partner, big city cop Officer Turk Adams. in the biopic Bird about Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, Wright co-starred as Dizzy Gillespie. He played Jericho in Jonny Zero. In the Fruit of the Loom commercials, he was the purple grapes.

Wright was one of the founders of the Hudson Valley Conservatory, a performing arts school that offers classes in acting, music and dance. It is a place for children to learn and grow in the arts.

“Wright’s death was announced on the Facebook page of the town of Montgomery, which reports on local news in the Hudson Valley. “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 reads. “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.” Wright’s daughter, Dee, confirmed the news of his passing, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “He was the brightest light.”

Fans of Disney and Broadway will miss him, as will his students at HVC. Our condolences to Mrs. Wright and their three children.

Wright leaves behind his wife Amanda Wright, and three children: Keely, Dee, and Sam.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.