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Pat Carroll death: Actor who voiced Ursula in 'The Little Mermaid' dies, aged 95

Carroll’s daughter asked fans to ‘honour her by having a raucous laugh at absolutely anything today’ after the actor’s death was confirmed  (Getty Images)
Carroll’s daughter asked fans to ‘honour her by having a raucous laugh at absolutely anything today’ after the actor’s death was confirmed (Getty Images)

Emmy-winning actor Pat Carroll, who voiced Ursula in The Little Mermaid, has died. She was 95.

Carroll’s death was confirmed by her daughter Kerry Karsian, a casting agent, who said Carroll died at her home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Saturday (30 July).

Her other daughter Tara Karsian wrote on Instagram that they want fans to “honour her by having a raucous laugh at absolutely anything today (and every day forward) because – besides her brilliant talent and love – she leaves my sister Kerry and I with the greatest gift of all, imbuing us with humor and the ability to laugh…even in the saddest of times”.

Carroll was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1927. Her family relocated to Los Angeles when she was five years old. Her first film role came in the 1948 film Hometown Girl before she found her stride in television.

She won an Emmy for her work on the sketch comedy series Caesar’s Hour in 1956, was a regular on Make Room for Daddy with Danny Thomas, a guest star on The DuPont Show with June Allyson. Carroll was also a variety show regular, with appearances on The Danny Kaye Show, The Red Skelton Show, and The Carol Burnett Show.

She also played one of the wicked stepsisters in the 1965 television production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren.

Carroll also won a Grammy in 1980 for the recording of her one-woman show Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein.

A new generation would come to know and love her voice thanks to Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which was released in 1989.

She was not the first choice of directors Ron Clements and John Musker or the musical team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who reportedly wanted Joan Collins or Bea Arthur to voice the sea witch.

Elaine Stritch was even cast originally before Carroll got to audition. In the end, however, her throaty rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” would make her one of Disney’s most memorable villains.

Carroll would often say that Ursula was one of her favorite roles. She said she saw her as an “ex-Shakespearean actress who now sold cars”.

“She’s a mean old thing! I think people are fascinated by mean characters,” Carroll said in a past interview.

“There’s a fatal kind of distraction about the horrible mean characters of the world because we don’t meet too many of them in real life. So when we have a chance, theatrically, to see one and this one, she’s a biggie, it’s kind of fascinating for us.”

She got the chance to reprise the role in several Little Mermaid sequels, spinoffs and even theme park rides.

Carroll was also the voice of Granny in the English-language dub of Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro.

Additional reporting by Associated Press