Thursday, April 21, 2022

Robert Morse, Star of How to Succeed and Mad Men, Dies at 90

Robert Morse in
How to Succeed in Business
Without Really Trying
Yesterday, I reported on the new version of Some Like It Hot coming to Broadway. Robert Morse, one of the stars of a previous musical edition of the classic film comedy called Sugar, just passed away at 90. Morse is best known for his star-making role in both the film and Broadway versions of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He won a Tony for playing the boyishly charming, gap-toothed but ruthless schemer J. Pierrepont Finch. Succeed ran for over 1,400 performances, and won seven Tonys as well as the Pulitzer Prize, a rarity for a comic musical. Morse won his second Tony for playing another impish character, Truman Capote in the solo play Tru. He made a late-career triumph in the TV series Mad Men as Bertram Cooper, one of the senior partners at the ad agency which provided the focus for the satirical show. He was nominated for five Emmys and won a SAG Ensemble Award for the series in 2010. His last Broadway performance was in an all-star revival of The Front Page in 2016.

Morse made his Broadway debut as the eager Barnaby opposite in Ruth Gordon in Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker which served as the basis for Hello, Dolly. He later reprised the role in the film version with Shirley Booth. He continued to make positive impressions in Say, Darling and Take Me Along before starring in How to Succeed. He later played another eager young man in So Long, 174th Street, a musical based on Carl Reiner's memoir of his days as an aspiring actor.

Morse played in many films, but never achieved Hollywood stardom. He specialized in farcical comedies such as Honeymoon Hotel, The Loved One, A Guide for the Married Man, Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?, and The Boatniks.

Guests stars Paul Lynde and Sid Ceasar with stars
EJ Peaker and Robert Morse
in the short-lived That's Life
He turned to TV and found it more hospitable. He starred in a short-lived innovative series called That's Life which chronicled a young couple's romance from courtship to parenthood over 26 episodes through monologues, sketches, and musical numbers. His numerous guest-star credits include Love, American Style, Night Gallery, All My Children, The Dukes of Hazzard, Murder She Wrote, Suddenly Susan, and American Crime Story.

His career sported some oddball assignments such as playing the vampirish Grampa Munster in a 1995 TV-movie Here Come the Munsters, the voice of Santa Claus in Teen Titans GO!, the character Howler on Pound Puppies, and Jack Frost in an animated musical TV special.

Tony Roberts, Elaine Joyce, 
and Robert Morse in

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