Pat Carroll, Voice of The Little Mermaid’s Ursula, Dies at 95

Pat Carroll, the voice behind The Little Mermaid’s spellbinding sea witch, Ursula, has died at her home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her daughter Kerry Karsian confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Carroll passed away Saturday at the age of 95.

Carroll is best known for her voiceover work, which began with 1966’s animated TV series The Super 6. In the 1980s, her shapeshifting vocals could be heard in everything from Scooby-Doo to Superman. She also voiced Granny in the English-language dub of Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro and Grandma in multiple Garfield specials. But Carroll would forever become synonymous with Ursula and her rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” when cast in 1989’s Disney adaptation of The Little Mermaid.

“It was a lifelong ambition of mine to do a Disney film,” she told author Allan Neuwirth in 2003’s Makin’ Toons: Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies. “So, I was theirs, hook, line, and sinker.” Carroll would reprise the role for several video games and theme park rides, as well as the 1993 Little Mermaid CBS series. She also voiced Ursula’s similarly sinister sister Morgana for 2000’s sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.

Carroll, born on May 5, 1927, in Shreveport, Louisiana, relocated with her family to Los Angeles when she was 5. She made her big-screen debut in 1948’s Hometown Girl before becoming a comedic mainstay on variety shows and sitcoms including The Mickey Rooney Show, The Danny Thomas Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Caesar’s Hour, for which she won an Emmy in 1957. Throughout her seven-decade career, she also played a wicked stepsister in 1965’s TV version of Cinderella and Shirley’s mom on Happy Days spinoffs Laverne & Shirley.

Carroll also treaded the boards of Broadway, earning a Tony nomination for her 1955 debut in Catch a Star!, written by Danny and Neil Simon. Decades later, she earned a Drama Desk Award and Grammy for her off-Broadway one-woman show, Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein, in which Carroll played the titular author.

At the time of Gertrude Stein, Carroll told The Washington Post that her children noted how immersed she was in the role. “I knew something was happening when my children told me, ‘Mom, you’re repeating everything three times,’” she said. “Then I noticed that I was not using contractions very much when I talked—there are no contractions at all in the first act of Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein.” Carroll is survived by her two daughters—Kerry and Tara Karsian, as well as her granddaughter, Evan.

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