Robert Alan Morse
May 18, 1931
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||April 20, 2022 (aged 90)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Robert Alan Morse (May 18, 1931 – April 20, 2022) was an American actor. Known for his performances on stage and screen, he received two Tony Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
He notably starred as J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, both the 1961 original Broadway production, for which he won a Tony Award, and its 1967 film adaptation; and as Bertram Cooper in the critically acclaimed AMC dramatic series Mad Men (2007–2015). He won his second Tony Award for playing Truman Capote in the 1989 production of the one-man play Tru. He reprised his role of Capote in an airing of the play for American Playhouse in 1992, winning him a Primetime Emmy Award.
Morse was born on May 18, 1931, in Newton, Massachusetts, the second child of May (Silver), a pianist, and Charles Morse, who worked at a record store and managed a chain of movie theaters. He was Jewish. He attended a number of different schools until finding his inspiration in Henry Lasker, a music teacher at Newton High School who, according to Morse, "knew what I had burning in me and wanted to express". Upon graduation, he left home for New York City to fulfill his ambition of becoming an actor, joining his elder brother Richard who was already studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He received an uncredited role in The Proud and Profane (1956), a film starring William Holden and Deborah Kerr. Soon thereafter, he was cast as Barnaby Tucker in the original Broadway production of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, launching his career. Morse also served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.
Morse earned multiple nominations and wins for Tony, Drama Desk, and Emmy awards over a period of five decades. He appeared in musicals and plays on Broadway, as well as in movies and television shows. He played young 1960s New York City businessman J. Pierrepont Finch in the 1961 Broadway production and 1967 film version of the Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In the late 2000s he had a recurring role of elder 1960s New York City businessman Bertram Cooper on the AMC television show Mad Men.
Having already played Barnaby on Broadway, Morse reprised the role in the 1958 film adaptation of The Matchmaker, this time opposite Shirley Booth. That same year, he won the Theatre World Award and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for Say, Darling. In 1959 he received his second Tony nomination, for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance in Take Me Along. What was considered the final step toward full stardom was his performance as J. Pierrepont Finch in the Pulitzer Prize-winning How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It won him the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical in 1962, and although he was not named on the award, he contributed to the Grammy Award-winning cast album. He also starred in the 1967 movie version.
In 1964, Morse co-starred in the comedy film Quick, Before It Melts. In 1965, Morse appeared in the black comedy film The Loved One, a movie based on the Evelyn Waugh novel of the same name which satirized the funeral business in Los Angeles, in particular Forest Lawn Cemetery. In 1967, he co-starred in Gene Kelly's A Guide for the Married Man, opposite Walter Matthau. In 1968, he appeared in the comedy Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? opposite Doris Day. In the same year, he appeared in the 1968 television series That's Life, which attempted to blend the musical genre with a situation comedy centered on newlyweds "Robert" and "Gloria" (played by E. J. Peaker). In 1968, he guest-starred on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. In 1987, Morse also appeared in the movie The Emperor's New Clothes, which starred Sid Caesar and was part of the Cannon Movie Tales series.
Morse was in the original Broadway cast of Sugar, a 1972 musical stage adaptation of Some Like It Hot, for which he was nominated for another Tony. He won a Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show for his portrayal of Truman Capote in Tru (1989). He starred in the 1976 musical So Long, 174th Street, which was based on the play Enter Laughing. The play received poor reviews and closed quickly. It was his last Broadway role for more than a decade.
In 1992, he recreated his Tru performance for the PBS series American Playhouse and won the Emmy Award as Best Actor in a Miniseries or Special. In 1999, Morse was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame for his long career as a stage actor. In 2002, Morse was cast in the role of the Wizard of Oz in the San Francisco run of the musical Wicked, but quit the show before it opened on Broadway. He was replaced by Joel Grey.
Morse joined other performers, including Marlo Thomas, in creating the 1972 Free to Be... You and Me children's album. He also provided the voice for the cartoon character Howler in Hanna-Barbera's Pound Puppies. He was the voice of Jack in the 1979 animated Rankin/Bass special Jack Frost. In The First Easter Rabbit, also by Rankin/Bass, he was the voice of the main character, Stuffy.
Morse appeared in dozens of TV shows, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He also appeared on CBS Radio Mystery Theater.
Beginning in 2007, Morse took on a recurring role in the critically acclaimed AMC dramatic series Mad Men as Bertram Cooper, a founding partner in the advertising agency Sterling Cooper, for which role he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014.
Morse was cast as journalist Dominick Dunne in the critically acclaimed limited series The People v. O.J. Simpson on FX.
At the age of 85, Morse returned to Broadway in the 2016 revival of The Front Page with Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, and Holland Taylor at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Morse was married twice and had five children. He died at his home in Los Angeles, California, on April 20, 2022, at the age of 90.
|1955–57||The Matchmaker||Barnaby Tucker||Royale Theatre, Broadway
Booth Theatre, Broadway
|1958–59||Say, Darling||Ted Snow||ANTA Theatre, Broadway |
Martin Beck Theatre, Broadway
|1959–60||Take Me Along||Richard Miller||Shubert Theatre, Broadway|
|1961–65||How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying||J. Pierrepont Finch||46th Street Theatre, Broadway|
|1972–73||Sugar||Jerry||Majestic Theatre, Broadway|
|1976||So Long, 174th Street||David||Harkness Theatre, Broadway|
|1980||Sugar Babies||Bobby||National Tour USA|
|1984||Duke||Cherry County Playhouse, Michigan|
|1985–86||Light Up the Sky||The Old Vic, London|
|1988||Babes in Toyland||The Toy Maker||California Music Theatre, Los Angeles|
|1989–90||Tru||Truman Capote||Booth Theatre, Broadway|
|2003||Wicked||The Wizard||Curran Theatre, San Francisco|
|2016–17||The Front Page||Mr. Pincus||Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway|
|1956||The Proud and Profane||Casualty||Uncredited|
|1958||The Matchmaker||Barnaby Tucker|||
|1964||Honeymoon Hotel||Jay Menlow|||
|1964||Quick, Before It Melts||Oliver Cromwell Cannon|||
|1965||The Loved One||Dennis Barlow|||
|1967||Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad||Jonathan|||
|1967||How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying||J. Pierrepont Finch|||
|1967||A Guide for the Married Man||Edward L. Stander|||
|1968||Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?||Waldo Zane|||
|1970||The Boatniks||Ensign Garland|||
|1987||The Emperor's New Clothes||Henry|||
|2002||It's All About You||Dr. Flowers|||
|2012||The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez||Burt|||
|2016||Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie||Walter Hoving|||
|2019||Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans||Santa Claus||Voice |
|1954||The Secret Storm||Jerry Ames #1||Unknown episodes|
|1955||Goodyear Television Playhouse||—||Episode: "Man on Spikes"|
|1956||The Alcoa Hour||Jiya||Episode: "The Big Wave"|
|1957||Matinee Theatre||Frank Wilson||Episode: "Rain in the Morning"|
|1959||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Phil||Episode: "Touché"|
|1959||Play of the Week||Gustave||Episode: "Thieves Carnival"|
|1960||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Len||Episode: "Hitch Hike"|
|1960||Play of the Week||Professor Pearson||Episode: "The Velvet Glove"|
|1961||Shirley Temple's Storybook||Drum Carpenter||Episode: "Rebel Gun"|
|1961||Naked City||Richy Wilkin||Episode: "Sweet Prince of Delancey Street"|
|1968||The Jonathan Winters Show||Self||Episode: 12 (13 MAR 1968)|
|1968–69||That's Life||Robert Dickson||26 episodes|
|1971||Alias Smith and Jones||Fred Philpotts||Episode: "The Day They Hanged Kid Curry"|
|1971||Night Gallery||Roger Blacker||Episode: "Marmalade Wine"|
|1971||Love, American Style||Episode: "Love and the Ledge"|
|1974||Love, American Style||Everett||Episode: "Love and the Forever Tree"|
|1976||The First Easter Rabbit||Young Stuffy||Voice, Television movie|
|1978||The Stingiest Man in Town||Young Scrooge||Voice, Television movie|
|1978||Fantasy Island||Barney Shore||Episode: "The Island of Lost Women"|
|1979||Jack Frost||Jack Frost (voice)||Television movie|
|1982||All My Children||Harry the Bookie||Episode: "20 July 1982"|
|1982||The Good Book||Host / Narrator / Saloon Indian||Television pilot|
|1983||Monchhichis||Moncho||Voice, 13 episodes|
|1983||One Day at a Time||Frank Sampson||Episode: "Worried Heart"|
|1984||Calendar Girl Murders||Nat Couray||Television movie|
|1984||The Fall Guy||Sky Kelly||Episode: "Rabbit's Feet"|
|1984||The Dukes of Hazzard||Dewey Hogg||Episode: "How to Succeed in Hazzard"|
|1984||Tales of the Unexpected||Stephen Shaw||Episode: "Sauce for the Goose"|
|1985||Murder, She Wrote||Marc Faber||Episode: "Broadway Malady"|
|1985||Trapper John, M.D.||Honest Wayne McIntyre||Episode: "A False Start"|
|1985||The Twilight Zone||Cupid||Episode: "Ye Gods"|
|1986||You Again?||Officer Morton||Episode: "The Lush Life"|
|1986–87||Pound Puppies||Howler||Voice, 25 episodes|
|1991||ProStars||Additional Voices||Unknown episodes|
|1992||Tiny Toon Adventures||Goopy Geer||Voice, Episode: "Two-Tone Town"|
|1992||American Playhouse||Truman Capote||Episode: "Tru"|
|1993||Wild Palms||Chap Starfall||3 episodes|
|1995||Aaahh!!! Real Monsters||Dootch||Voice, Episode: "Where Have All the Monsters Gone?"|
|1995||Here Come the Munsters||Grandpa||Television movie|
|1997||Rugrats||Mr. Koch||Voice, Episode: "Faire Play"|
|1997||Superman: The Animated Series||Desaad||Voice, Episode: "Father's Day"|
|1997||Union Square||Santa Claus||Episode: "Jack Gets a Hot Tip"|
|1998||Suddenly Susan||Uncle Bert||Episode: "The Thanksgiving Episode"|
|1999||The Wild Thornberrys||Jake||Voice, Episode: "Two's Company"|
|2000||City of Angels||Edwin O'Malley||14 episodes|
|2006||I Did Not Know That||Nick Rabinowitz||Television movie|
|2007–15||Mad Men||Bertram Cooper||58 episodes|
|2007||Jeff Ltd.||Ron||Episode: "Too Many Hens in the Foxhouse"|
|2014||Sofia the First||Marshak / Gnuckles||Voices, 2 episodes|
|2014||The Legend of Korra||Governor||Voice, Episode: "After All These Years"|
|2015–21||Teen Titans Go!||Santa Claus||Voice, 10 episodes|
|2016||The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story||Dominick Dunne|||
|2016||Animals||Old Phil||Voice, Episode: "Flies."|
|2019||Corporate||Terry Sales||Episode: "The One Who's There"|
|1959||Best Featured Actor in a Play||Say, Darling||Nominated|||
|1960||Best Actor in a Musical||Take Me Along||Nominated|
|1962||Best Actor in a Musical||How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying||Won|
|1973||Best Actor in a Musical||Sugar||Nominated|
|1990||Best Actor in a Play||Tru||Won|
Primetime Emmy Awards
|1969||Outstanding Variety Series||That's Life||Nominated|||
|1993||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie||Tru||Won|
|2008||Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series||Mad Men||Nominated|
Screen Actors Guild Awards
|2008||Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series||Mad Men||Nominated|||