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

Carroll also had an extensive television and stage career.

Pat Carroll was an acclaimed stage and voice actor.
Pat Carroll was an acclaimed stage and voice actor.
(© Disney)

Award-winning stage actor Pat Carroll died on Saturday in her home on Cape Cod. She was 95.

Best known to millions of Disney fans as the voice of Ursula the sea witch in the 1989 animated feature The Little Mermaid, Carroll had a varied career that started in the theater and blossomed on television before returning to the stage.

Her first professional work was with the Priscilla Beach Theater of Plymouth, Massachusetts, where she made her stage debut in 1947 in A Goose for the Gander starring Gloria Swanson. Carroll soon made the transition to New York, working as a comedian in nightclubs like the Village Vanguard. This positioned her for the next phase of her career as a regular player on television variety shows.

Carroll won a 1957 Emmy for her work on the sketch comedy show Caesar's Hour. She was often a panelist on game shows like Password and Match Game and she can still be seen in reruns of beloved sitcoms like The Danny Thomas Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Laverne & Shirley.

In the late '70s she commissioned the playwright Marty Martin to write a one-woman play about Gertrude Stein titled Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein, which ran for over a year at the Circle Theatre off-Broadway (1979-1980). Carroll won both a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance. Her recorded version earned her a Grammy for Best Spoken Word.

She worked extensively with Washington, D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre Company, appearing as the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet (1987), starring as Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1990), and portraying the title role in Mother Courage and Her Children (1993). She won Helen Hayes Awards for all three performances.

Carroll appeared in four Broadway shows: Catch a Star! (1955), Dancing in the End Zone (1985), The Show Off (1992), and Electra (1998).

In addition to The Little Mermaid, Carroll lent her voice to the animated series Pound Puppies and Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure. She was proud of her work as Ursula, continuing to lend her voice to film sequels, TV spinoffs, and video games through the last three decades.