"Hey, I'm short and sorta fat. I can make people laugh.
That's about it" is how character actor Ernie Sabella describes himself.
A specialist in low-level sleaze and surliness, he has spiced up productions
on stage, TV, and increasingly, on the big screen. Sabella established himself
on Broadway and regional theater before becoming a familiar TV face
in sitcoms, busted pilots, and occasional TV dramas since the mid-1980s.
His supporting role in the acclaimed 1992 Broadway revival of "Guys and Dolls"
marked the beginning of his association with Nathan Lane. While the musical was
still in rehearsals, the pair insisted on reading together for two roles inDisney's "The Lion King" (1994)--and the results were deemed magical.
Sabella and Lane were given free rein to improvise and both their
expressive vocal and physical mannerisms were incorporated into the animation.
Sabella was Pumbaa the flatulent warthog to Lane's Timon the merkaat.
The scene-stealing comedy team was also a hit on the road as they promoted
the Disney behemoth and led to voice work in several direct-to-video releases
featuring the pair. Sabella had previously appeared in just a few small film roles
but several other assignments quickly followed, including Robert Redford's
period TV drama, "Quiz Show", the family drama "Roommates" (both 1994)
and a retemaing with Lane in "Mouse Hunt" (1997).