Wright’s daughter Dee confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming he passed away peacefully at his home Monday after being diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago.
While Wright was best known for playing Sebastian in the 1989 Disney animated film – his performance of “Under the Sea” helped secure the film an Oscar for Best Original Song – he also starred in shows. TV like The Cosby show, all my kids, and Law and order.
Born in Camden, South Carolina on November 20, 1946, the actor was also a Broadway veteran. He played in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1971 and played Mufasa in The Lion King from 1997. Wright’s first nomination to Tony came in 1984 for his performance in The tap child, followed by another nomination in 1998 for The Lion King.
“He was the brightest light,” Wright’s daughter told The Hollywood Reporter.
The City of Montgomery, New York, posted Wright’s death on its Facebook page, saying, “Today the City of Montgomery mourns the loss of Sam Wright. Sam was an inspiration to all of us and, along with his family, founded the Hudson Valley Conservatory. Sam and his family have impacted countless young people in the Hudson Valley, always inspiring them to reach higher and dig deeper to become the best version of themselves. Along with his passion for the arts and love for his family, Sam was best known for walking into a room and simply gifting Pure Joy to those he interacted with. He liked to receive, he liked to make people smile and laugh and he liked to love.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1991, Wright said, “Maybe not all actors would say that, but if I didn’t want to be immortal, I wouldn’t act. I want to make my little mark on the world. “