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*Samuel Wright was born on this date in 1946. He was a Black actor and singer.
Samuel Edward Wright was from Camden, South Carolina. He was a student at Camden High School, where he was involved with sports and the arts.
His first Broadway role was in the original 1971 cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar." That same year, he married Amanda Wright, and together they had three children: Keely, Dee, and Sam. He played Washington Americans ballplayer C.B. “Cool Breeze” Travis opposite Jim Bouton on the short-lived 1976 sitcom Ball Four, then starred in 1980-81 as a cop on The Dukes of Hazzard spinoff Enos. He played Dizzy Gillespie in the 1988 biographical film about Charlie Parker.
Wright was nominated for a Tony Award in 1984 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in The Tap Dance Kid and again in 1998 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical as the original lead actor for Mufasa in The Lion King, the Broadway version of Disney's animated classic of the same name. Wright was chosen to play the Scarecrow in the 1995 Apollo Theater Revival of The Wiz. Wright played Enos' partner Turk in the TV series Enos and originated the part of "Sam" in Over Here! on Broadway (1974). In addition, on Broadway, Wright replaced Ben Vereen as the Leading Player in Pippin (1972). He originated the role of Mayor Joe Clark in Mule Bone (1991).
Wright performed and recorded several songs for the animated film The Little Mermaid as Sebastian the Crab and is most known for the songs "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl," which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Wright also played the part of Mufasa in the original cast of The Lion King on Broadway and voiced Kron the Iguanodon in Disney's 2000 CGI/live-action film Dinosaur. He released a soul music single in 1973, "There's Something Funny Going On" backed with "Three Hundred Pounds of Hungry" on the Paramount label. Samuel Wright died in his sleep at his home in Walden, New York, on May 24, 2021, at 74. The cause of death was revealed to be prostate cancer.