The Little Mermaid cast now – career U-turn, tragic death and sitcom favourite

Disney classic The Little Mermaid made history when it was released in 1989.

In a re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen's literary fairytale, the animated film followed the adventures of Princess mermaid Ariel – whose dreams of being human and finding love with the dashing Eric would soon cost her voice following an encounter with evil sea witch Ursula.

Ariel became the first non-human and red-haired princess in Disney canon and has recurred in films including Ralph Breaks The Internet over recent years.

READ MORE: Disney's The Little Mermaid trailer sees Halle Bailey take on iconic song

As the live-action The Little Mermaid prepares to hit screens, Daily Star takes a look inside what became of the original film's stars.

Jodi Benson (Ariel)

US actress and singer Jodi Benson brought the role of Ariel to life upon the film's release in 1989.

The voice and screen actor provided both spoken and song vocals for the movie, famously voicing the original version of Part of Your World.

Eleven years after the film's release, Jodi reprised her role as Ariel in 2000 sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, where she played a grown-up version of Ariel.

She played the character yet again in the straight-to-DVD flick The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning in 2008.

Jodi has continued her voice-acting success over the years, voicing the character Tour Guide Barbie in Toy Story 2 and 3.

She also appeared alongside Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey as a secretary in the live-action Disney flick Enchanted.

Almost 30 years on from her The Little Mermaid debut, Jodi reprised her Ariel role again and alongside other classic Disney Princesses for Ralph Breaks the Internet in 2018.

In her personal life, Jodi has been happily married to her husband Ray Benson for 38 years.

The couple share two grown-up children, McKinley and Delaney.

Samuel E Wright (Sebastian)

Samuel E Wright won an Oscar and a Grammy for his star turn as Sebastian in The Little Mermaid.

The actor played the chatty crab advisor to King Triton in the film and famously sang the catchy jingle Under The Sea, which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song and also earned a Grammy.

Following the film, Samuel reprised his role as Sebastian several times.

He also starred in Disney's 2000 adventure movie Dinosaur and portrayed Mufasa in a Broadway version of The Lion King.

Prior to landing his The Little Mermaid role, Samuel famously starred as jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie in Clint Eastwood's Bird – a biographical film about saxophonist Charlie Parker – in 1988.

Sadly, Samuel passed away in May last year at the age of 74 following a three-year battle with prostate cancer.

He is survived by his wife-of-49-years Amanda and their children, Keely, Dee and Sam.

Christopher Daniel Barnes (Eric)

Christopher Daniel Barnes had a promising screen career before his star turn as Eric in The Little Mermaid.

Following the film's release, he leaned into other screen and voice acting roles – playing Greg Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel while also voicing Marvel hero Peter Parker in Spider-Man: The Animated Series from 1994 – 1998.

While Chris didn't return for The Little Mermaid sequels, he does remember the role fondly on social media.

Stepping away from acting, the star has also made a change in career – branching out into writing terrifying short stories.

Explaining his stories on his website, Chris wrote: "I have chosen to post my short stories here. I hope you find as much catharsis in their reading as I found in their writing.

"However please be warned, these stories are for adults only. They contain content of a violent and sexual nature.

"There are no Disney princes, no animated heroes."

Pat Carroll (Ursula)

Pat Carroll brought the legendary Disney villain Ursula to life back in 1989, strengthening her already formidable legacy.

The actress portrayed the sea witch in the flick, singing her famous and catchy tune Poor Unfortunate Souls.

She also provided the voice for Morgana in The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea.

Reflecting fondly on the role, Pat previously told told author Allan Neuwirth in Makin‘ Toons: Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies: "It was a lifelong ambition of mine to do a Disney film.

"So, I was theirs hook, line and sinker."

Away from Disney, Pat was an Emmy-winning actress and comedienne – with memorable roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, ER and The Love Boat.

In her personal life, Pat was married to her first husband Lee Karsian from 1955 – 1976.

They had three children, with the couple's only son Sean sadly passing away in July 2009.

Pat also died in July this year from pneumonia at the age of 95, 13 years to the day since her son's death.

Kenneth Mars (Triton)

Kenneth Mars brought his signature blend of fierce humour to the role of King Triton in The Little Mermaid in 1989 and later returned for its sequel in 2000.

An accomplished comedy actor on-screen, his voice acting talents soon attracted other roles in shows including Garfield and Friends, Rugrats and The Land Before Time.

The actor also made a memorable return to screens as a family sitcom favourite in 2002.

Kenneth played German ranch owner Otto Mannkusser in the comedy series Malcolm in the Middle, who Francis stayed with for a brief stint after leaving military school.

It was to be one of his final roles.

Sadly, Kenneth passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2011 at the age of 75.

He is survived by his wife Barbara Newborn and the couple's two daughters.


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