Robert Xavier Morse (born May 18, 1931) is an American actor and singer best known as the star of both the 1961 original Broadway production and 1967 movie version of
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and as Bertram Cooper, from 2007 to 2014, in the AMC dramatic series Mad Men. [1 ] [2 ] [3 ] [4 ]
Early life [ edit ]
Morse was born on May 18, 1931 in
Newton, Massachusetts, at St. Mary's General Hospital. He was the second of Joseph Xavier and Edna Morse's eight children and mostly raised in Boston, Massachusetts, his family having moved there when he was one. He was ten when his father died in a car accident , and his mother, who suffered a nervous breakdown afterwards, was committed to a mental institution in Florida. Therefore, young Robert and his siblings were forced to live with their maternal grandparents, John and Nancy Porter, in Cambridge. Around this time, unable to escape the stresses in his life, Morse would regularly make trips to the movie theater, seeing the new movies of the day and quickly developing idols like Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Orson Welles, Spencer Tracy, and Katharine Hepburn, while Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, and Billy Wilder were his favorite directors.
Beginning at age thirteen, he began appearing in school productions such as
, Romeo and Juliet When Christopher Columbus Discovered America, and The Dark Alleys of New York. It was also around age thirteen that he declared his plans to become an actor and hoped that nothing would stand in his way. He graduated from high school in 1949 and spent the next year working as a ditch digger, newspaper deliveryman, waiter, drugstore clerk, and bodybuilder before joining the United States Navy and being sent off to fight in Korea in 1950. After serving in the U.S. Navy for four years, Morse moved to Manhattan to study acting. [5 ] [5 ]
Morse has earned multiple nominations and wins for
Tony, Drama Desk and Emmy awards over a period of five decades. He is well known for his appearances in musicals and plays on Broadway, as well as roles in movies and television shows. Perhaps best known for his role as 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, , Morse gained new prominence in the late 2000s for his recurring role of elder 1960s New York City businessman How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying Bertram Cooper on the AMC television show . Mad Men [6 ]
He created the role of Barnaby in
on Broadway in 1955 opposite The Matchmaker Ruth Gordon and reprised the role in the 1958 film adaptation of , this time opposite The Matchmaker 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 . Morse had to lobby David Merrick for a role in Say, Darling , as there was a question as to whether he could, at 28, play a convincing 16-year-old; he could and did. What was considered the final step toward full stardom was his performance as J. Pierrepont Finch in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Take Me Along . It won him the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical in 1962. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying He also starred in [7 ] the 1967 movie version.
In 1964, Morse co-starred in the comedy film
. In 1965, Morse appeared in the black comedy film Quick, Before It Melts , a movie based on the The Loved One Evelyn Waugh novel of the same name that satirized the funeral business in Los Angeles, in particular the Forest Lawn Cemetery. In 1967, he co-starred in , opposite A Guide for the Married Man Walter Matthau. In 1968, he appeared in the comedy opposite Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? Doris Day. In the same year, he appeared in the 1968 television series , which attempted to blend the musical genre with a situation comedy centered on newlyweds "Robert" and "Gloria" (played by That's Life E. J. Peaker). [8 ]
Morse was in the original Broadway cast of
, a 1972 musical stage adaptation of Sugar , for which he was nominated for another Tony. He won a Tony for Some Like It Hot 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 (1989). Tru In 1992, he recreated his performance for the [5 ] PBS series and won the American Playhouse 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 [9 ] Wizard of Oz in the San Francisco run of the musical , but quit the show before it opened on Broadway. He was replaced by Wicked Joel Grey. [10 ]
Morse joined other performers, including
Marlo Thomas, in creating the 1972 children's album. Free to Be... You and Me
He also provided the voice for the cartoon character Howler in
Hanna Barbera's . Pound Puppies
Another famous role he played was Jack in the 1979 animated
Rankin/Bass special . In Jack Frost , also by The First Easter Rabbit Rankin/Bass, he was the voice of the main character, Stuffy.
Morse has appeared in numerous TV shows, beginning in 1955 with the
soap opera and including mysteries, comedies, and variety shows. He appeared as The Secret Storm Boss Hogg's devious nephew, Dewey Hogg, in sixth season episode "How to Succeed in Hazzard" (1984). He had featured roles in the 1993 The Dukes of Hazzard miniseries and the 2000 medical drama Wild Palms . In 1995, Morse portrayed City of Angels Grandpa in the Fox telefilm . Here Come the Munsters
Beginning in 2007, Morse took on a recurring role in the
AMC dramatic series as Mad Men Bertram Cooper, a 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.
Personal life [ edit ]
Morse has been married twice
and has five children. [5 ]
References [ edit ]
External links [ edit ]