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The news of his death was confirmed in a Facebook post on Tuesday by his hometown Montgomery, N.Y. It did not confirm his cause of death.
“Today, the Town of Montgomery mourns the loss of Sam Wright,” the post reads. “Sam was an inspiration to us all and along with his family established the Hudson Valley Conservatory. 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. 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 was born in Camden, S.C., eventually making his way into the entertainment industry when he landed on Broadway in the original 1971 cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He went on to originate the roles of William in “The Tap Dance Kid” and Mufasa in “The Lion King,” both of which he was nominated for a Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical. In between, Wright made a slew of appearances on TV shows over the course of the ’70s and ’80s, which included his television debut on 1976’s “Ball Four,” “All My Children” and “The Cosby Show.”
In 1989, he voiced Ariel’s trusty sidekick and voice of reason Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid.” He would continue to lend his talents for the role in numerous video games, TV series “House of Mouse” and “The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea.”
“The greater Town of Montgomery Community mourns together today,” the Town of Montgomery Facebook post concluded. “As we say goodbye to a pillar in our community and ask everyone to share a memory and help us celebrate the life of this great man.”
This story first appeared on Variety.com.