Sadly, the world has lost yet another Disney Legend and person of incomparable talents for acting, singing, dancing, and deals.
In today’s entertainment climate, Disney tends to reign supreme when it comes to comic book movies, television, and the Star Wars franchise. Yet, there was a time when Disney was mainly known for its animated features like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. This led to movies of the 1980s and 1990s such as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast. Due to the studio’s long history and frequent collaboration with a multitude of performers, some talents acquire the moniker of a Disney Legend, marking a lifetime achievement of work done at the company. Now, it seems that one of these Disney Legends has passed, actor Pat Carroll.
According to a report by Deadline, American actor and comedian Pat Carroll has died at the age of 95. Well-known by audiences around the world as the voice of the evil Ursula in The Little Mermaid, Carroll had a distinguished career in front of the camera and through voice-over work. Carroll was a veteran of television, appearing in various series from the medium’s earliest days in hit shows such as The Danny Thomas Show on through modern times in Laverne & Shirley and ER. Throughout her career, Pat Carroll earned several awards, including a Primetime Emmy Award for her work on Caesar’s Hour and a Grammy Award in 1981 for Best Spoken Word, Documentary or Drama Recording for a one-woman show she performed on Gertrude Stein. She was also nominated for a Tony Award for her 1955 Broadway debut in Catch a Star!
Though known to audiences for her onscreen performances, Pat Carroll may best be remembered for her voice-over talent, especially in The Little Mermaid. As opposed to some of Disney’s actors, Pat Carroll provided the acting voice and singing voice for Ursula. She sang the song Poor Unfortunate Souls for the film, which contributed to her first ever villainous role. At the time of the movie’s release, Carroll gave an interview with The Buffalo News when she remarked that playing “someone mean is heavenly.” After forty years of portraying oddball characters on the stage, on television, and in film, it was a welcome challenge for her to play a Disney villain.
Now, in the grand tradition of remakes and rebooting well-received franchises, Disney has embarked on recreating The Little Mermaid to be a live-action version of the animated story. The newest version will be a film adaptation directed by Chicago helmer Rob Marshall and will see Melissa McCarthy step into Pat Carroll’s tentacles as Ursula. Halle Bailey will be taking on the role of Ariel, the titular mermaid that makes a pact with Ursula to become human. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid is set to be released in theaters on May 26, 2023, and will feature a combination of live-action and voice-over performances from Javier Bardem, Awkwafina, and Jacob Tremblay. Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda has signed on to produce the film as well as provide new songs alongside original The Little Mermaid composer Alan Menken, who is returning to score the movie. One can only hope that a Disney film dedication to Pat Carroll is in the works.