Herbert "Barry" Morse (10 June 1918 - 2 February 2008) was a British-born Canadian actor of stage, screen, and radio best known for his roles in the ABC television series The Fugitive and Space: 1999. His performing career spanned eight decades and he had thousands of roles to his credit, including work for the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Born to a Cockney
family, Morse was a 15 year old school dropout and errand boy when he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
. He performed the role of the lion in Androcles and the Lion
and as a result came to know George Bernard Shaw
, a patron of the academy. His first paid job as an actor whilst still a student was in If I Were King
. At graduation he starred in the title role of Shakespeare
's Henry V
, presented as a Royal Command Performance
for King George VI
and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
Upon graduation, Morse won the BBC
's Radio Prize which led to several parts and a leading role in The Fall of the City
. Later he played the lead in William Shakespeare
and starred as 'Paul Temple' in the radio series Send for Paul Temple Again
, among dozens of other roles. He later performed on CBC
radio beginning in 1951 and continuing to the 1980s, including the long-running series A Touch of Greasepaint
, the Joe McCarthy
-inspired The Investigator
, and 1984
. He also starred in a number U.S.
productions in the 1970s and 1980s for producer Yuri Rasovsky
, including The Odyssey of Homer
, which won a Peabody Award
Morse's last radio performance, Rogues and Vagabonds - A Theatrical Scrapbook, aired on internet radio KSAV August 7 and August 9, 2007, prior to being released on compact disc. The hour-long special audio drama was comprised of a half-dozen vignettes and performances culled from theatrical history, including William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw.
Morse was a member of repertory theatre companies in Peterborough
, and other cities where he gained experience as an actor while playing more than 200 roles. In 1941 he joined the national tour of The First Mrs. Fraser
starring Dame Marie Tempest
and A.E. Matthews
. He debuted on the London West End
stage in The School for Slavery
. Other West End
productions included Escort
, The Assassin
, and A Bullet in the Ballet
. He was directed by John Gielgud
in Crisis in Heaven
. Morse developed a theatrical partnership with actress Nova Pilbeam
and they worked together both in film and on stage, most notably in the hit stage productions of The Voice of the Turtle
and Flowers for the Living
Morse made his film debut in the 1942 comedy The Goose Steps Out
with Will Hay
and continued with roles in Thunder Rock
, When We Are Married
, and This Man is Mine
(released as A Soldier for Christmas
in North America) with Glynis Johns
and Nova Pilbeam
. Other notable films include Kings of the Sun
with Yul Brynner
, and Puzzle of a Downfall Child
with Faye Dunaway
. He also appeared in the thrillers Asylum
with Peter Cushing
and The Changeling
with George C. Scott
. He worked on several Lacewood animated productions, notably as the voice of Dragon in The Railway Dragon
and The Birthday Dragon
, alongside Tracey Moore
who played Emily. In 1999 he filmed the dramatic comedy Taxman
with Billy Zane
, released as Promise Her Anything
and on DVD as Nothing to Declare
. His final film appearance was in I Really Hate My Job
, released in 2007.
Later stage work
Morse has performed on Broadway
in Hide and Seek
, Salad Days
, and the lead of Frederick William Rolfe
in Hadrian the Seventh
. He directed the historic debut of Staircase
starring Eli Wallach
and Milo O'Shea
, which stands as Broadway's first depiction of homosexual
men in a serious way. He also starred in the U.S.
national tour of Harold Pinter
's The Caretaker
as The Derelict.
He first presented a version of his one man show Merely Players in 1959, which explored the experiences of actors through history, with the definitive version of the show debuting in 1984 for a Canadian national tour. Morse was perhaps the only actor to have performed in every play of William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw.
Morse served as Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival of Canada for the 1966 season and as an Adjunct Professor at Yale University in 1968.
In 2004, with his son Hayward Morse, he starred in the North American debut of Bernard and Bosie: A Most Unlikely Friendship by Anthony Wynn, performed at the University of Florida, Sarasota. This two-act stage drama is based on the correspondence between playwright George Bernard Shaw, played by Morse, and Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas (the intimate friend of Oscar Wilde), played by Hayward.
The following year, Morse appeared in the world premiere performance of the science fiction play Contact by Doug Grissom, co-starring Ryan Case and presented in Tampa, Florida.
Morse guest starred in more than a thousand drama, comedy, and talk show presentations in the U.S.
, and the UK
. Early American
appearances include the U.S. Steel Hour
and Playhouse 90
. He also guest starred on such TV series
as Naked City
, The Untouchables
, The Twilight Zone
, Wagon Train
, and The Defenders
. In The Outer Limits
episode "Controlled Experiment
" he starred with Carroll O'Connor
and Grace Lee Whitney
. This episode was shot as a pilot for a proposed series starring O'Connor
and Morse as two Martians
sent to Earth
to examine human life and experiences. CBS
instead opted for the series My Favorite Martian
with Ray Walston
and Bill Bixby
. In his later years, Morse guest-starred in a number of Canadian-produced series, including La Femme Nikita
and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues
, as well as such British series as Doctors
, Waking the Dead
and Space Island One
Morse's first television series was Presenting Barry Morse
, which aired for thirteen weeks in the summer of 1960 on CBC
. Some of his best known television roles included: Lt Philip Gerard
on the 1960s series The Fugitive
with David Janssen
; "Prof. Victor Bergman
" in the 1975-1976 season of Space: 1999
with Martin Landau
, Barbara Bain
, and Zienia Merton
; 'Mr. Parminter' in The Adventurer
with Gene Barry
; and "Alec 'The Tiger' Marlowe" in The Zoo Gang
with Sir John Mills
, Lilli Palmer
, and Brian Keith
. In 1982 he played the Ronald Reagan
-esque U.S. President Johnny Cyclops in the satirical sitcom Whoops Apocalypse
in the UK
and hosted the series Strange But True
for the CBC.
Morse appeared in a number of television mini-series, including The Winds of War
and War and Remembrance
(both with Robert Mitchum
), The Martian Chronicles
, and Frederick Forsyth
. Other notable miniseries appearances include A Woman of Substance
, Master of the Game
, and Race for the Bomb
The book based on his long running stage play Merely Players - The Scripts was published in 2003 and his Pulling Faces, Making Noises was released in 2004.
Stories of the Theatre was published in 2006 and features material from his CBC radio series A Touch of Greasepaint, which aired from 1954 to 1967.
His long-awaited theatrical memoir, Remember With Advantages - Chasing 'The Fugitive' and Other Stories from an Actor's Life (ISBN 9780786427710), (written with Robert E. Wood and Anthony Wynn), details his life and career. The book features a foreword written by Academy Award-winning actor Martin Landau and was released by McFarland and Company publishers in Spring 2007.
Morse wrote the foreword to the upcoming book Talkin' Trek and Other Stories, by Anthony Wynn (ISBN 1593930747), in which he reminisced about his experience as a character actor, working with varied Star Trek performers such as William Shatner, James Doohan, Grace Lee Whitney, Paul Carr, and others. The book is to be released by BearManor Media in early 2008.
Marriage and relocation
After a short courtship, Morse married actress Sydney Sturgess
on March 26
, during their work together in repertory theatre in Peterborough
. The couple had two children, Melanie Morse
(1945-2005) and Hayward Morse
, born in 1947.
In 1951, the Morse family relocated to Canada, where he worked in radio and theatre, and participated in the first television broadcasts of CBC Television from Montreal, and later Toronto.
Morse became a Canadian citizen in 1953.
Barry Morse long supported a number of charitable organizations, including the Toronto-based Performing Arts Lodges of Canada, the Royal Theatrical Fund, the London Shakespeare Workout Prison Project, Actors' Fund of Canada, The Samaritans, BookPALS, and Parkinsons disease
treatment and research.
The Parkinsons disease cause in particular held a special place in Morse's heart as his wife of more than 60 years, actress Sydney Sturgess, had a 14-year long battle with the disease prior to her death in 1999. In recent years, he also became an advocate for senior citizens in his adopted homeland of Canada.
Barry Morse died February 2
at University College London
hospital. He was 89 years old.