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As Crab or ‘Bird,’ Wright Gives 100%

If actor Samuel E. Wright wasn’t worried about being typecast as the dancing grape in those Fruit of the Loom commercials, he’s positively upbeat about being taken for the definitive cartoon crustacean.

Wright gave voice to Sebastian the Crab in Disney’s “Little Mermaid” movie and has continued the gig in Disney Channel concerts, personal appearances and on two subsequent albums, including the just released “Sebastian’s Party Gras.” He says he’s downright grateful to his crabby alter-ego.

“Maybe not every actor would say this, but if I didn’t want to be immortal I wouldn’t be acting,” he said. “I do want to make my little mark on the world. An actor’s worst nightmare is to hear, 10 years from now, ‘Sam Wright? Who was Sam Wright?’ “If you have that kind of attitude, you tend to take each role and make it the best role you’ve done. You don’t know what people are going to judge you by. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cartoon, Dizzy Gillespie (Wright played the legendary jazz artist in the film “Bird”) or Othello, I’m going to play it with the same fervor--just in case anybody’s watching.”

The 42-year-old Wright lives with his wife and three children in “a little town in Upstate New York, so beautiful you think you’re living in a Disney cartoon. Tree-lined streets, a little river below the hill--my heart breaks whenever I leave it.” Inside the house, Wright keeps a collection of little red crabs “and every time I pass one I genuflect and say, ‘Thank you for the house, my kids’ education and the fact that we don’t have to eat cheese grits anymore.’ ”

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