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September 19, 1949
Westchester, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor|
|Known for||Pumbaa (voice)|
|Spouse(s)||Cheryl Sabella (?–present)|
Life and career
Born in Westchester, New York, Sabella graduated from Westlake High School in Thornwood, New York and from the University of Miami, where he studied at the Department of Theatre Arts and performed at the university's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre.
His stage credits include The Robber Bridegroom (1978), Little Johnny Jones (1982), Guys and Dolls (1992) as Harry the Horse, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1996), Chicago (1996), Man of La Mancha (2002, as Sancho Panza) and Sweet Charity (2005). Film credits include Quiz Show (1994) as the car salesman, In & Out (1997) as Aldo Hooper, Disney's The Lion King (1994) and multiple sequels and spin-offs as Pumbaa. He also has worked with Nathan Lane, who had voiced Timon, in Guys and Dolls, Mouse Hunt, The Producers (in a deleted scene) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In the latter production, Sabella portrayed Marcus Lycus while Lane played Pseudolus. Sabella also joined Lane for his Saturday Night Live monologue, where they sang "Hakuna Matata".
On television, Sabella portrayed apartment manager Lou Donatelli in the Jason Bateman comedy It's Your Move (1984–85). He also appeared in an episode of Cheers entitled "Love Thy Neighbor" (Season Four Episode Eight air date November 21, 1985) in which he played the role of a private investigator named Santo Carbone, who was Carla Tortelli's cousin. He played store owner and landlord Donald Twinkacetti on Perfect Strangers (1986–1987). He also played Leo in the short-lived situation comedy Encore! Encore! starring Nathan Lane (1998–1999). Sabella also had a five-episode stint on Saved by the Bell as Leon Carosi, an uptight resort manager and owner who employed the main cast's characters. Leah Remini was featured as his daughter. His other recurring roles include the lazy teacher Mr. Petrachelli on That's So Raven, the floundering attorney Harland Bassett on The Practice, and characters on Hill Street Blues and Newhart. In the Quantum Leap episode "Catch a Falling Star", he played the dual role of Manny, a stage actor, and Sancho Panza, Manny's character in a touring production of Man of La Mancha. Sabella had a brief appearance as a naked man on a subway train in a 1992 episode of Seinfeld titled "The Subway". He also starred in a series of television commercials for NyQuil cold medicine in 1994, and was recently seen in a Mastercard commercial (2007). He also did work as the guy from Lynx in 2003.
Sabella voiced his first video game character named Siegecrafter Blackfuse in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.
In 2015, Sabella reprised his voice role as Pumbaa in the TV pilot movie The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar.
Awards and nominations
- 1996 - Daytime Emmy Award - Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program - Nominated
- 2005 - DVDX Award for Best Animated Character Performance (Voice and Animation in a DVD Premiere Movie) - Nominated
- "Ernie Sabella Biography". FilmReference.com. Film Reference. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
- Bacalzo, Dan (2007-01-04). "Full Cast Set for Broadway's Curtains: Ernie Sabella Joins Musical". TM Theater News. TheaterMania Inc. Retrieved 2007-01-12.