Pat Carroll, Voice of Ursula in Disney's Little Mermaid, Dead at 95

Pat Carroll, a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning actor of stage and screen who famously voiced the villainous Ursula in Disney's animated The Little Mermaid, has died. She was 95. Carroll died at her home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on July 30, while recovering from pneumonia, Deadline reported Sunday. Across her career spanning more than 70 years, Carroll recurred on the sitcom The Danny Thomas Show and appeared frequently on such TV series as Busting LooseThe Red Skelton Hour, and Getting Together. In 1956, Carroll won an Emmy for her work on the sketch comedy series Caesar's Hour

Along with her roles on Caesar's Hour and The Red Skelton Show, Carroll appeared on such variety shows as The Red Buttons ShowThe Danny Kaye Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. She guest-starred in many seminal sitcoms of the 1970s, including roles on The Mary Tyler Moore ShowMy Three Sons, and Carroll's turn as an overbearing mother on Laverne & Shirley

A prolific voice actor, Carroll performed "Poor Unfortunate Souls" as the voice-stealing sea witch Ursula in the 1989 animated musical The Little Mermaid. Ursula was a role Carroll frequently reprised across various media, including the TV series Disney's House of Mouse and the Little Mermaid spinoff; in 2020, Carroll voiced the character for a final time in an episode of the short series The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse. 

"After I read the script, I thought, 'Oh, this is going to be so wonderful … and then, I heard the music and thought, 'Oh my God, that's like a Broadway score,'" Carroll recalled of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's music in Allan Neuwirth's 2003 book, Makin' Toons : Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies

"I went out to the studio, and looked around the room at all of us ladies … There were ladies there I recognized from film, there were ladies that I recognized from television … [This] was a highly sought-after job," Carroll said at the time. "And in New York, they were doing the same thing. So I knew I was one of many … This was not, 'Oh, we must get Pat Carroll.'" 

In Makin' Toons, Carroll remembered "griping" after one recording session: 

"My youngest daughter, Tara — who's now an actress and director — said, 'Mom, may I remind you, you're in something that fifty years from now may be shown, and all your work you've done in the theater will have gone by the boards and disappeared. What you're working on now will be seen by our children, and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren,'" Carroll recaled. "I looked at her and I thought, the kid is right. And I said, 'Tara, are you telling me that my grandchildren will only know me as a squid?' We both began screaming with laughter, because she knew what I was saying was right."

As voiced by Carroll, Ursula is among the most iconic and most recurring Disney villains. Carroll also voiced other characters for Disney, including the tutu-wearing Kookoo the gorilla in Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers and the grumpy Old Lady Crowley in Tangled: The Series

Carroll's other voice credits include roles in A Goofy Movie, Garfield's Holiday Dinner, as Queen Hippolyta in the late '80s Ruby-Spears Superman animated series, and as Granny in the English version of Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro. Most recently, Carroll made cameo appearances in Nancy Drew and Bridesmaids, making her final on-screen appearance in the comedy film BFFs.