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Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” is mourning the loss of Pat Carroll.
The actress, known for voicing the underwater villain Ursula in the 1989 animated film, passed away on July 30 at age 95. Her daughter Kerry Karsian, a casting agent, said Carroll died at her home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Her other daughter Tara Karsian wrote on Instagram that they want everyone to “honor her by having a raucous laugh at absolutely anything today (and everyday forward) because besides her brilliant talent and love, she leaves my sister Kerry and I with the greatest gift of all, imbuing us with humor and the ability to laugh…even in the saddest of times.”
Benson took to her Instagram Story on Monday to remember her late co-star.
“Dear friends, I just got off the plane from England and read the news,” the 60-year-old captioned a photo of the pair all smiles while on a seashell ride.
“My heart is broken,” wrote Benson. “Pat was an incredible woman. Kind, generous, hysterically funny & immensely talented. She lived an amazing and full life filled with love, family and a remarkable career.”
“I will miss her so much,” Benson concluded her post, which was accompanied by a crying face and heart emoji.
The Emmy-winning star found a niche as a comedienne on the late-night circuit beginning in the 1940s, and voiced several cartoon characters through the years before earning an Emmy for her work on “Caesar’s Hour.”
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Carroll’s family moved to Los Angeles when she was 5 years old, and she picked up acting in local productions shortly after.
She graduated from the local, all-girls Immaculate Heart High School, whose notable alumni include Meghan Markle, Diane Disney (the daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney), Mary Tyler Moore, Lucie Arnaz, Tyra Banks and Yara Shahidi.
After enlisting in the Army, she attended the Catholic University of America, and began her career in the industry with the 1947 film “Hometown Girl.”
She co-starred as Prunella in a 1965 production of the musical version of “Cinderella,” and worked on “Laverne & Shirley,” “Busting Loose,” “The Ted Knight Show” and “She’s The Sheriff.”
Other appearances included “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Love Boat,” “Designing Women” and “ER.”
She won several theatrical awards for her one-woman show on Gertrude Stein. The recorded version won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word, Documentary or Drama in 1980.
A new generation would come to know and love her voice thanks to Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” She was not the first choice of directors Ron Clements and John Musker or the musical team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who reportedly wanted Joan Collins or Bea Arthur to voice the sea witch. Elaine Stritch was even cast originally before Carroll got to audition. Her throaty rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” would make her one of Disney’s most memorable villains.
Carroll would often say that Ursula was one of her favorite roles. She said she saw her as an “Ex-Shakespearean actress who now sold cars.”
“She’s a mean old thing! I think people are fascinated by mean characters,” Carroll said in an interview. “There’s a fatal kind of distraction about the horrible mean characters of the world because we don’t meet too many of them in real life. So when we have a chance, theatrically, to see one and this one, she’s a biggie, it’s kind of fascinating for us.”
She got the chance to reprise the role in several “Little Mermaid” sequels, spinoffs and even theme park rides.
Carroll is survived by daughters Kerry Karsian, Tara Karsian and granddaughter Evan Karsian-McCormick.
FOX News’ Tracy Wright and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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