Robert Morse
Robert Morse in 2014
Robert Alan Morse

(1931-05-18)May 18, 1931
DiedApril 20, 2022(2022-04-20) (aged 90)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1953–2022
  • Carole D'Andrea
    (m. 1961; div. 1981)
  • Elizabeth Cosby Roberts
    (m. 1989; died 2022)

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).[1][2][3][4] 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.

Early life

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.[5][6] He was Jewish.[7] 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".[8][9] 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.[10] Morse also served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.[11]


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.[12]

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,[13] and although he was not named on the award, he contributed to the Grammy Award-winning cast album.[14] He also starred in the 1967 movie version.[10]

Robert Morse in 1958

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).[15] In 1968, he guest-starred on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.[16] 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.[17]

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).[18] 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.[6]

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.[19] 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.[20]

Morse joined other performers, including Marlo Thomas, in creating the 1972 Free to Be... You and Me children's album.[10] 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.[21] In The First Easter Rabbit, also by Rankin/Bass, he was the voice of the main character, Stuffy.[22]

Morse appeared in dozens of TV shows,[23] including Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone.[24] He also appeared on CBS Radio Mystery Theater.[25]

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.[9]

Morse was cast as journalist Dominick Dunne in the critically acclaimed limited series The People v. O.J. Simpson on FX.[26]

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.[27]

Personal life and death

Morse was married twice[18] and had five children.[10] He died at his home in Los Angeles, California, on April 20, 2022, at the age of 90.[28][6]


Year Title Role Theatre Venue Ref.
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[28] 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[28] Truman Capote Booth Theatre, Broadway
2003 Wicked The Wizard Curran Theatre, San Francisco
2016–17 The Front Page Mr. Pincus Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway



Year Title Role Notes
1956 The Proud and Profane Casualty [30]Uncredited
1958 The Matchmaker Barnaby Tucker [30]
1963 The Cardinal Bobby [30]
1964 Honeymoon Hotel Jay Menlow [31]
1964 Quick, Before It Melts Oliver Cromwell Cannon [30]
1965 The Loved One Dennis Barlow [30]
1967 Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad Jonathan [32]
1967 How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying J. Pierrepont Finch [30]
1967 A Guide for the Married Man Edward L. Stander [30]
1968 Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? Waldo Zane [30]
1970 The Boatniks Ensign Garland [30]
1987 Hunk Garrison Gaylord [30]
1987 The Emperor's New Clothes Henry [30]
2002 It's All About You Dr. Flowers [33]
2012 The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez Burt [34]
2016 Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie Walter Hoving [35]
2019 Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans Santa Claus Voice [36]


Year Title Role Notes
1954 The Secret Storm Jerry Ames #1 Unknown episodes[31]
1955 Goodyear Television Playhouse Episode: "Man on Spikes"[37]
1956 The Alcoa Hour Jiya Episode: "The Big Wave"[37]
1957 Matinee Theatre Frank Wilson Episode: "Rain in the Morning"[38]
1959 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Phil Episode: "Touché"[39]
1959 Play of the Week Gustave Episode: "Thieves Carnival"[40]
1960 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Len Episode: "Hitch Hike"[39]
1960 Play of the Week Professor Pearson Episode: "The Velvet Glove"[40]
1961 Shirley Temple's Storybook Drum Carpenter Episode: "Rebel Gun"[41]
1961 Naked City Richy Wilkin Episode: "Sweet Prince of Delancey Street"[40]
1968 The Jonathan Winters Show Self Episode: 12 (13 MAR 1968)[42]
1968–69 That's Life Robert Dickson 26 episodes[31]
1971 Alias Smith and Jones Fred Philpotts Episode: "The Day They Hanged Kid Curry"[43]
1971 Night Gallery Roger Blacker Episode: "Marmalade Wine"[32]
1971 Love, American Style Episode: "Love and the Ledge"[31]
1974 Love, American Style Everett Episode: "Love and the Forever Tree"[31]
1976 The First Easter Rabbit Young Stuffy Voice, Television movie[30]
1978 The Stingiest Man in Town Young Scrooge Voice, Television movie[44]
1978 Fantasy Island Barney Shore Episode: "The Island of Lost Women"[45]
1979 Jack Frost Jack Frost (voice) Television movie[31]
1982 All My Children Harry the Bookie Episode: "20 July 1982"[40]
1982 The Good Book Host / Narrator / Saloon Indian Television pilot[46]
1983 Monchhichis Moncho Voice, 13 episodes[47]
1983 One Day at a Time Frank Sampson Episode: "Worried Heart"[31]
1983 Masquerade Episode: "Pilot"[48]
1984 Calendar Girl Murders Nat Couray Television movie[49]
1984 The Fall Guy Sky Kelly Episode: "Rabbit's Feet"[48]
1984 The Dukes of Hazzard Dewey Hogg Episode: "How to Succeed in Hazzard"[31]
1984 Tales of the Unexpected Stephen Shaw Episode: "Sauce for the Goose"[50]
1985 Murder, She Wrote Marc Faber Episode: "Broadway Malady"[31]
1985 Trapper John, M.D. Honest Wayne McIntyre Episode: "A False Start"[31]
1985 The Twilight Zone Cupid Episode: "Ye Gods"[40]
1986 You Again? Officer Morton Episode: "The Lush Life"[51]
1986–87 Pound Puppies Howler Voice, 25 episodes[31]
1990 Masquerade Television movie[48]
1991 ProStars Additional Voices Unknown episodes[52]
1992 Tiny Toon Adventures Goopy Geer Voice, Episode: "Two-Tone Town"[31]
1992 American Playhouse Truman Capote Episode: "Tru"[39]
1993 Wild Palms Chap Starfall 3 episodes[53]
1995 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Dootch Voice, Episode: "Where Have All the Monsters Gone?"[21]
1995 Here Come the Munsters Grandpa Television movie[32]
1997 Rugrats Mr. Koch Voice, Episode: "Faire Play"[31]
1997 Superman: The Animated Series Desaad Voice, Episode: "Father's Day"[31]
1997 Union Square Santa Claus Episode: "Jack Gets a Hot Tip"[54]
1998 Suddenly Susan Uncle Bert Episode: "The Thanksgiving Episode"[31]
1999 The Wild Thornberrys Jake Voice, Episode: "Two's Company"[31]
2000 City of Angels Edwin O'Malley 14 episodes[31]
2006 I Did Not Know That Nick Rabinowitz Television movie[55]
2007–15 Mad Men Bertram Cooper 58 episodes[39]
2007 Jeff Ltd. Ron Episode: "Too Many Hens in the Foxhouse"[56]
2014 Sofia the First Marshak / Gnuckles Voices, 2 episodes[57]
2014 The Legend of Korra Governor Voice, Episode: "After All These Years"[58]
2015–21 Teen Titans Go! Santa Claus Voice, 10 episodes[45][39]
2016 The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story Dominick Dunne [45]
2016 Animals Old Phil Voice, Episode: "Flies."[45]
2019 Corporate Terry Sales Episode: "The One Who's There"[45]

Video games

Awards and nominations

Tony Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1959 Best Featured Actor in a Play Say, Darling Nominated [60]
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

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1969 Outstanding Variety Series That's Life Nominated [61]
1993 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Tru Won
2008 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Mad Men Nominated
2010 Nominated
2011 Nominated
2013 Nominated
2014 Nominated

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2008 Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series Mad Men Nominated [61]
2010 Nominated
2011 Won
2013 Nominated


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  11. ^ Korean War Vet Robert Morse Conquered Both Broadway and Hollywood Retrieved April 1, 2023.
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  24. ^ Robert Morse, ‘Mad Men’ Star, Dies at 90
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