I had a great time when I met Pat Carroll — Ursula from The Little Mermaid, to you! — in 2012 at the Hollywood Show.
Pushing 85, she was bubbly and was floored when I produced an original '50s image of her. In the photo, she is mugging, and she told me it was her first time laying eyes on it since the day she took it.
She also talked a bit about working on Too Close for Comfort, revealing nobody really knew just how sick co-star Ted Knight was.
Today comes the news that Ms. Carroll died at 95 yesterday, July 30, 2022, at her Cape Cod home. She had been recovering from pneumonia.
Carroll was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 5, 1927. She acted on the stage locally as a kid, and once her family moved to L.A., she pursued it with an eye toward making it a career.
She debuted in a feature film in 1948's Hometown Girl, but it was TV that was her medium. Working in it since the late '40s, she wound up on highly theatrical shows like Goodyear Playhouse (1951), The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse (1954), Max Leibman Spectaculars (1954) and Studio 57 (1954), all of which were basically broadcasts of plays.
After also cutting her teeth on light fare like The Dennis Day Show (1954) and The Mickey Rooney Show (1954), she in 1957 — at what was then only the 9th Annual Emmys — won a statuette for Best Supporting Performance by an Actress for her work on Caesar's Hour.
She went on to play an ugly stepsister on the smash-hit TV-musical version of Cinderella (1965). Other TV highlights include The Danny Thomas Show (1961-1964), Laverne & Shirley (1976), Too Close for Comfort (1986-1987) and the series on which she appeared in the most episodes: She's the Sheriff (1987-1989).
Still, in spite of a prolific career on the boob tube, Carroll became a Disney legend as Ursula, singing "Poor Unfortunate Souls" as part of her show-stopping voice perf in The Little Mermaid (1989). If ever someone deserved a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for voice work, it was she for that. Sadly, that did not materialize. The Academy has something against sea witches!
She spent the rest of her days doing most voice work, often for Disney.
Carroll is survived by her daughters and granddaughter.