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Actor Robert Morse (1931-2022)


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The versatile actor Robert Morse, who excelled in screen, stage and television projects, died Wednesday at the age of 90. His death was confirmed by an e-mail from the talent agency BRS/Gage's Jordan Bell, who wrote that Morse "died peacefully at home after a brief illness."

Morse would have observed his 91st birthday on May 18.

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Morse was one of five actors to win Tonys for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play. The others who duplicated the feat: Sir Rex Harrison, Zero Mostel, Christopher Plummer and Kevin Kline. Morse's first Tony was for his role in the 1962 musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." He is pictured below with fellow winners Diahann Carroll ("No Strings"), Margaret Leighton ("The Night of the Iguana") and Paul Scofield ("A Man for All Seasons"). 1962 Tony Award Winners — Google Arts & Culture

In 1990, Morse was awarded a Tony for his portrayal of the celebrated author Truman Capote in the play "Tru." Morse also headlined the play during an extensive national tour and when the production was taped in Chicago for PBS' "American Playhouse." He won a 1993 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special. 

 In "The Loved One," Tony Richardson's 1965 star-studded satire about the funeral industry, Morse played a Britisher visiting his ill-fated uncle (Sir John Gielgud) in Los Angeles. Among the film's other stars were Jonathan Winters (in a dual role as the Glenworthy Brothers), Anjanette Comer, Rod Steiger, Dana Andrews, Milton Berle, James Coburn, Tab Hunter, Margaret Leighton, Liberace, Roddy McDowall and Robert Morley (pictured below with Morse), The film's screenplay, based on the short 1948 novel by British author Evelyn Waugh, was credited to the well-known writers Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood. One of the film's producers was John Calley (1930-2011), the well-regarded studio chief and filmmaker honored in 2009 with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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In a 1967 film version of "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying", Morse reprised his stage role as the ambitious window washer J. Pierrepont Finch, who relied on an instruction guide, charm, guile, moxie and a little bit of luck to become an important executive overnight at a big advertising firm. The film also starred Michele Lee (in her screen debut) as secretary Rosemary Pilkington, who took an immediate liking to Finch.  

During the 1968-1969 television season, Robert Morse starred with the actress E.J. Peaker in ABC's unorthodox musical comedy "That's Life." The story of a young married couple featured sketches, monologues, music and dance. Among its guest stars were George Burns, Tony Randall, Sid Caesar, Goldie Hawn, Paul Lynde, Ethel Merman. Phil Silvers, Leslie Uggams, Kay Medford, Agnes Moorehead, Flip Wilson, Betty White and The Muppets. The series, created by Jackie Gleason's longtime TV head writer Marvin Marx, was canceled after 32 episodes.

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From 2007 to 2015 on AMC's Primetime Emmy Award-winning drama "Mad Men," Morse co-starred as Bertram Cooper --a founding partner of the New York advertising firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The character died on July 20, 1969 -- the day of the first manned moon landing. But company partner Don Draper (series star Jon Hamm) apparently saw Cooper one last time. Morse received five Primetime Emmy nominations as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his performances as Cooper.

The 2016 FX miniseries "The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" featured Morse as Dominick Dunne (1925-2009), the author and journalist who covered "The Trial of the Century" in 1995 for Vanity Fair magazine, The miniseries, co-written and co-produced by Morse's friend Larry Karaszewski, earned 22 Primetime Emmy Award nominations. The project won nine Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series.

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My good pal Bobby Morse has passed away at age 90. A huge talent and a beautiful spirit. Sending love to his son Charlie & daughter Allyn. Had so much fun hanging with Bobby over the years - filming People v OJ & hosting so many screenings (How To Succeed, Loved One, That’s Life)
 
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A memory that Robert Morse shared with me a few years ago, after his "Mad Men" swan song: https://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/robert-morse-on-his-big-mad-men-number/
 
 
 
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We are so saddened to learn of the passing of award-winning Broadway and film star, Robert Morse. It was an honor to have spent time with this legendary performer and call him a friend of TCM. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. https://bit.ly/3Orx956
 
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So sorry to hear this, one of the Broadway greats. In addition to his deservedly Tony award-winning roles in How to Succeed and Tru, he also appeared (in his Broadway debut) as Barnaby in the original production of The Matchmaker (1955) and in many musicals, including Say Darling, Take Me Along, Sugar, and So Long, 174th Street. His final performance on Broadway was in a revival of The Front Page in 2017.

Here's Bobby singing "Nine O'Clock" from Take Me Along, the musical version of Ah, Wilderness!

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Swithin said:

So sorry to hear this, one of the Broadway greats. In addition to his deservedly Tony award-winning roles in How to Succeed and Tru, he also appeared (in his Broadway debut) as Barnaby in the original production of The Matchmaker (1955) and in many musicals, including Say Darling, Take Me Along, Sugar, and So Long, 174th Street. His final performance on Broadway was in a revival of The Front Page in 2017.

Here's Bobby singing "Nine O'Clock" from Take Me Along, the musical version of Ah, Wilderness!

 

 

 

Swith--Did you see Bobby in "How To Succeed"?

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5 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

Swith--Did you see Bobby in "How To Succeed"?

Sadly, no. It was before my time going to the theater. I saw Matthew Broderick do the revival. And  saw the film when it opened, at Radio City Music Hall.

 

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Sad. Robert Morse's outstanding Broadway career is memorable. So glad he reprised his role in How  To Succeed in Business in the film so that everyone will always be able to see what a wonderful talent he was.  Robert Morse was so great as Bert Cooper in Mad Men, such a treat to watch him. 

RIP Robert Morse

 

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On 4/21/2022 at 10:27 AM, LuckyDan said:

I was just thinking of him recently and his career comeback playing Truman Capote. 

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Tru was recorded for PBS Great Performances and it truly was that, a great performance. It's well-suited for Christmas viewing, especially if "The Hols" are challenging. It's a one-person show set entirely in his NYC apartment at Christmastime after he'd been socially ostracized for his fictionalized magazine stories about New York society.  It's available on YouTube in chapters, but I think the whole thing is there.

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1 hour ago, DougieB said:

Tru was recorded for PBS Great Performances and it truly was that, a great performance. It's well-suited for Christmas viewing, especially if "The Hols" are challenging. It's a one-person show set entirely in his NYC apartment at Christmastime after he'd been socially ostracized for his fictionalized magazine stories about New York society.  It's available on YouTube in chapters, but I think the whole thing is there.

Thank you for the viewing tip, Dougie. I was reading about Capote's roman à clef involving Babe Paley and others when Robert Morse's play came to mind. I saw Robert's interview with Johnny Carson when he was enjoying all the acclaim the role was bringing him, and I think they showed a snippet of him on stage as Truman. I will seek out the GP recording. 

Does anyone remember his very short-lived TV show from 1968 called "That's Life", about a pair of newlyweds? I have only the vaguest memory of it, but I think it was when I first learned who he was.

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