Pat Carroll: Voice of Disney's The Little Mermaid character Ursula dies aged 95

Ursula, from the Disney film the Little Mermaid.
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Feature Animation/Silver Screen Partners IV/Buena Vista Pictures Distribution 
Pat Carroll attending the Broadway opening of The Little Mermaid, in 2008. (AP)
The Emmy-winning actress gained a new generation of fans with her portrayal of the sea witch in Disney's 1989 classic. Credit: Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Feature Animation/Silver Screen Partners IV/Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and AP

The Emmy-winning actress who voiced Ursula in Disney's The Little Mermaid has died at the age of 95.

Pat Carroll's daughter Kerry Karsian, a casting agent, said her mother had died at her home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Saturday.

Carroll's other daughter, Tara Karsian, wrote on Instagram that the family want people to “honour 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 humour and the ability to laugh…even in the saddest of times.”

Who was Pat Carroll?

Carroll was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1927, relocating to Los Angeles when she was five years old.

Her first film role came in 1948 in Hometown Girl but she found her stride in television, winning an Emmy for her work on the sketch comedy series Caesar’s Hour in 1956.

She was a regular on Make Room for Daddy with Danny Thomas, a guest star on The DuPont Show with June Allyson and a variety show regular on The Danny Kaye Show, The Red Skelton Show and The Carol Burnett Show.

She also played one of the wicked stepsisters in the 1965 television production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren, and won a Grammy in 1980 for the recording of her one woman show Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein.

Fans also knew her as the voice of Jon Arbuckle's grandmother in two televised specials of the popular cartoon, Garfield.

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But a new generation came to know and love her voice thanks to Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which was first screened in 1989.

Carroll was not the first choice of the directors, who reportedly wanted Joan Collins or Bea Arthur to voice the sea witch.

Elaine Stritch was even cast originally before Carroll got to audition.

But it was Carroll's throaty rendition of Poor Unfortunate Souls that would go on to make her one of Disney’s most memorable villains.

Carroll got the chance to reprise the role in several Little Mermaid sequels, spinoffs and even theme park rides.

She would often say that Ursula was one of her favourite roles - and described imagining the character 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.”