Pat Carroll, the Emmy-winning actress best known as the voice of the villainous sea witch Ursula in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” has died aged 95.
Carroll’s daughter, Kerry Karsian, told the Hollywood Reporter that her mother died Saturday of pneumonia at her Cape Cod, Massachusetts, home.
Carroll’s other daughter, Tara Karsian, paid tribute to the star in an Instagram post on Sunday, asking fans “to honor her by laughing cheekily at everything today (and every day), because in addition to her brilliant talent and love, she leaves my sister Kerry and I with the greatest gift of all, imbued us with humor and the ability to laugh… even in the saddest of times.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1927, Carroll landed her first major role in the 1948 film Hometown Girl.
Over the next seven decades, she appeared in television shows including “The Danny Thomas Show”, “The Red Skelton Show”, “Busting Loose” and “ER”, and she also guest-starred on “The DuPont Show” with June Allison.
In 1956, she received an Emmy for her work on Sid Caesar’s sketch comedy series “Caesar’s Hour.”
In 1981, she won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word, Documentary, or Drama for the recording of her one-man show “Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein.”
Carroll had her first voiceover appearance in 1966, for the animated television series “The Super 6”. In 1988, she voiced the role of grandmother in the English version of the Japanese classic animation “My Neighbor Totoro.” But it was her performance a year later as one of Disney’s most memorable villains, in “The Little Mermaid,” that catapulted her to international fame. She also provided vocals for the Sea Witches’ signature song, “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
She later described Ursula’s character as one of her favorites and played the part in several sequels, spin-offs, video games, and even “Little Mermaid” amusement park rides.
“My wish before kicking the bucket was to make a Disney movie,” Carroll told “The Complete Pioneers of Television Interview” earlier this year.
She added that she was “so excited” when she got a call from Disney a year after six auditions to play the part and prepared herself by pretending Ursula was an ex-Shakespeare actress who sold used cars.
“I’ve never enjoyed anything so much in my life and I still get fan mail from kids all over the world.”