Bret Morrison

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Bret Morrison
Bret Morrison and Grace Matthews as Lamont Cranston and Margot Lane
Born5 May 1912 (1912-05-05)
Chicago, Illinois
Died25 September 1978(1978-09-25) (aged 66)
Hollywood, California

Bret Morrison (5 May 1912 – 25 September 1978)[1][2] was an American actor best known as the voice of the mysterious crusader for law and order on radio's The Shadow.[3] He was also a popular cabaret singer.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Morrison entered radio during the 1930s while he was still in Chicago High School. He began with The First Nighter Program.[4] In 1937, he was in the cast of Lucky Girl, a Monday-Friday drama broadcast on WGN in Chicago.[5]

Morrison portrayed the Shadow longer than any other actor, spending 10 years in the role in two separate runs. Bill Johnstone played the Shadow until early 1943. Morrison replaced Johnstone in April, 1943, continuing until 1944. John Archer (1944–45) was followed by Steve Courtleigh (1945). Morrison then returned from 1945 until 1954. For many, he was the definitive voice of the Shadow, though his delivery was much less sinister than Orson Welles, who also portrayed the Shadow during its first full year run.

Morrison's other roles in radio programs included those shown in the table below.

Program Role
Best Seller Host-narrator[6]
Chicago Theater of the Air Cast member[6]: 74 
Great Gunns Chris Gunn[6]: 138 
Guiding Light Clifford Foster[6]: 140 
Listening Post Host-narrator[6]: 202 
Melody Theater Master of ceremonies[7]
Musical Bouquet Host[6]: 243 
The Romance of Helen Trent Jonathan Howard[6]: 289 

In 1974 Morrison was living in Palm Springs, California.[8] At age 66, Morrison died of a heart attack. He was found slumped over the steering wheel of his parked car on a Hollywood street where he had stopped for shopping after taping an episode of Heartbeat Theater. It was believed 107-degree temperatures in a Southern California heat wave may have prompted Morrison's heart attack.[9]


  1. ^ "Bret Morrison". Voice Chasers.
  2. ^ DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2. P. 197.
  3. ^ Bertel, Dick; Corcoran; Ed (January 1972). "Bret Morrison". The Golden Age of Radio. Season 2. Episode 10. Broadcast Plaza, Inc.. WTIC Hartford, Conn.
  4. ^ Radio Hall of Fame Archived April 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Today's Features". Chicago Daily Tribune. May 17, 1937. p. 17. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  7. ^ "Melody Theater". Billboard. July 12, 1947. p. 12. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Palm Springs Home To Radio Veterans: Stars of 'Golden Era'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. AP. December 18, 1974. Retrieved September 30, 2012. Brett Morrison, who was radio's Shadow from 1944 to 1956, is just one of many from radio's golden era who live in this desert resort.
  9. ^ "People,"Daily Herald, September 27, 1978.