Robert Morse

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Robert Morse
Robert Morse at PaleyFest 2014.jpg
Morse at The Paley Center For Media's PaleyFest 2014 Honoring Mad Men
Born (1931-05-18) May 18, 1931 (age 83)
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1953–present
Spouse(s) Carol Ann D'Andreá (1961–1981)
Elizabeth Roberts (1989–present)

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] He was ten when his father died in a car accident[citation needed], and his mother, who suffered a nervous breakdown afterwards, was committed to a mental institution in Florida.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] After serving in the U.S. Navy for four years,[5] Morse moved to Manhattan to study acting.[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, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Morse gained new prominence in the late 2000s for his recurring role of elder 1960s New York City businessman Bertram Cooper on the AMC television show Mad Men.[6]

Photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1958

He created the role of Barnaby in The Matchmaker on Broadway in 1955 opposite Ruth Gordon and 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. Morse had to lobby David Merrick for a role in Take Me Along, 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 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.[7] 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 that satirized the funeral business in Los Angeles, in particular the Forest Lawn Cemetery. In 1967, he co-starred in 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).[8] In 1987, Morse also appeared in the movie The Emperor's New Clothes , in which he played "The Tailor" starring Sid Caesar. 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).[5] In 1992, he recreated his 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.

Another famous role he played was 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 has appeared in numerous TV shows, beginning in 1955 with the soap opera The Secret Storm and including mysteries, comedies, and variety shows. He appeared as Boss Hogg's devious nephew, Dewey Hogg, in The Dukes of Hazzard sixth season episode "How to Succeed in Hazzard" (1984). He had featured roles in the 1993 miniseries Wild Palms and the 2000 medical drama City of Angels.

Beginning in 2007, Morse took on a recurring role in the AMC dramatic series Mad Men as 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[5] and has five children.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Fear, David. "'Mad Men's Robert Morse on Dancing Into the Sunset". Rolling Stone. 
  2. ^ Simonson, Robert. ""Mad Men" and In Your Arms Star Robert Morse on Making Jon Hamm Cry". Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Robert Morse". Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Bertram Cooper". 
  5. ^ a b c d Hutchings, David (January 15, 1990). "His Boyishness a Casualty of Age and Experience, Robert Morse Is Reborn as Truman Capote". People. 
  6. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (May 27, 2014). "Robert Morse on His Big ‘Mad Men’ Number". New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  7. ^ " – The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards – Official Website by IBM". IBM Corp., Tony Award Productions. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  8. ^ entry for That's Life
  9. ^ "On Stage: New class of theater hall of famers". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  10. ^ David Cote (2005). Wicked: The Grimmerie: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hit Broadway Musical. Hyperion. ISBN 1-4013-0820-1. 

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