Morris as Ernest T. Bass, 1960s.
Howard Jerome Morris
September 4, 1919
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Died||May 21, 2005 (aged 85)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor, director|
|Years active||1937–2005 (his death)|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Helen McGowan|
(m. 1945; div. 1962)
Dolores A. Wylie
(m. 1962; div. 1977)
Howard Jerome Morris (September 4, 1919 – May 21, 2005) was an American actor, voice actor and director who was best known for his role in The Andy Griffith Show as Ernest T. Bass, and as "Uncle Goopy" in one of the most celebrated comedy sketches in history, on Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows (1954).
Life and career
Morris was born to a Jewish family in The Bronx, New York, the son of Elsie and Hugo Morris, a rubber company executive. During World War II, he was assigned to a United States Army Special Services unit where he was the First Sergeant. Maurice Evans was the company commander and Carl Reiner and Werner Klemperer were soldiers in the unit. Based in Honolulu, the unit entertained American troops throughout the Pacific.
He came to prominence in appearances on Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows (a live sketch comedy series appearing weekly in the United States, from 1950 to 1954). It was in April 1954 that Morris joined Caesar and Carl Reiner in "This Is Your Story," an 11-minute takeoff on Ralph Edwards's This Is Your Life. Morris claimed it was his favorite. As The New Yorker's David Margolick wrote in 2014,
Though the competition is stiff, many feel that this sketch is the funniest that “Your Show of Shows” ever did . . . . That night nearly sixty years ago, the show produced what is probably the longest and loudest burst of laughter—genuine laughter, neither piped in nor prompted—in the history of television.
Never afraid to have talented people around him, Caesar is actually upstaged here by his second second banana (that is, after Reiner): Howard Morris, who plays Duncey’s long-lost Uncle Goopy, who, overcome with emotion, repeatedly clings to and slobbers over his favorite nephew. Shamelessly milking the moment, Morris throws in all sorts of extra embraces, even clinging to his leg as a lumbering Caesar drags him to the couch. It was a dangerous thing to do, but evidently Morris felt he could do it.
 This opinion is shared by the New York Times (in Morris's obit), and Hollywood.com, among others. Conan O'Brien tweeted in 2014, "Saw this Sid Caesar sketch when I was a kid. It made me want to make people laugh." Billy Crystal later called it a defining early influence: "That's how I used to go to bed. I'd grab my dad's leg, and he'd drag me to bed like Sid Caesar." The sketch can be viewed here, Morris entering at the 4:00 mark.
Although Morris was a classically trained Shakespearean actor, he is best remembered for playing the wily and over-the-top "mountain man" character Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show. Also, he played George, the TV mechanic in the episode: "Andy and Helen have their Day" on the Andy Griffith show. He had lampooned southern accents while in the army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He starred in one of the more comical early hour-long Twilight Zone episodes, "I Dream of Genie". Other roles included that of Elmer Kelp in The Nutty Professor, a movie studio clerk in the short film Star Spangled Salesman, and an art appraiser in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also had appeared in several Broadway shows including the highly regarded 1960 revival of Finian's Rainbow as Og the leprechaun opposite Bobby Howes as Finian. He played the role of Schmidlap in Way... Way Out and appeared in the movie, Boys' Night Out (1962) starring Tony Randall, Kim Novak and James Garner.
Morris was first heard in animated cartoons in the early 1960s. He and Allan Melvin teamed up for a 50-episode King Features Syndicate series, Beetle Bailey, for which he and Melvin also wrote a number of episodes. He also provided the voices for Gene Deitch's Academy Award-winning Munro, about a four-year-old boy who was drafted into the Army.
Beginning in 1962, Morris played a variety of voices in many Hanna-Barbera series including The Jetsons as Jet Screamer who sang the "Eep opp ork ah ah!" song, (said to be Morris' first work for Hanna-Barbera) and The Flintstones. He was the original voice of Atom Ant and provided the voice of Mr. Peebles in the Magilla Gorilla series, teaming up again with Allan Melvin who performed the voice for Magilla. In another series, Morris was heard as the voice of Breezly Bruin which was similar in tone with the Bill Scott vocalization of Bullwinkle. Morris had a disagreement with Joseph Barbera prior to production of the 1966-1967 season of Magilla Gorilla and Atom Ant and all of his voices were recast, mostly using Don Messick. Years later the two men reconciled and Morris was back doing those voices and others. He also lent his voice to Forsythe "Jughead" Jones on Filmation's series The Archies from 1968-1977.
Morris also voiced the characters Professor Icenstein and Luigi La Bounci in the animated series Galaxy High. He voiced Mayor McCheese and later the Hamburglar (taking over for Larry Storch in 1986) in McDonald's McDonaldland ad campaign, which Morris also directed. He is also remembered by Filmation and Archie Show fans as the voice of Jughead Jones throughout the life of the franchise. Morris provided the voice of Wade Duck in the U.S. Acres segments of Garfield and Friends, and voiced Webbly in Bobby's World and Flem in Cow & Chicken. Morris supplied the voice of the koala in TV commercials for Qantas from 1967 through 1992 (saying the tagline, "I hate Qantas"), and voiced the character of Gopher in the Disney featurettes Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Also in 1989 he voiced a French gangster cat named Monte De Zar of Paris, France, (Fat Cat's Cousin) in an episode of Disney's: Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Le Purrfect Crime".
While Morris continued to make himself available for voice and sound effect roles, he also began a new career in voice directing. Among the projects he directed are Police Academy, Richie Rich, Bionic Six, Goin' Coconuts, Pole Position, Galaxy High, The Snorks, The Mighty Orbots, Rose Petal Place, The Dogfather, Dragon's Lair, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, Turbo Teen, Cabbage Patch Kids: First Christmas, Little Clowns of Happytown, The Little Wizards, Space Stars and Kidd Video.
Directing and later career
Mel Brooks occasionally cast Morris in his films. For example, he played Brooks' mentor psychiatrist Dr. Lilloman in the comedy High Anxiety (1977), the emperor's court spokesman ("Here, wash this!") in History of the World, Part I (1981), and played a bum named Sailor living in the streets in Life Stinks (1991).
In 1984, he played Dr. Zidell in Splash, a film directed by Ron Howard (the two had first worked together on The Andy Griffith Show). He worked with his old friend and trouping partner Sid Caesar as nervous Jewish tailors in the 1998 movie of Ray Bradbury's The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.
In 1986, he reprised his famous role as Ernest T. Bass in the high-rated television movie Return to Mayberry.
In 1989, he guest starred on Murder, She Wrote.
Shortly before his death, he played Flem on Cow and Chicken.
On May 21, 2005, Morris died of congestive heart failure. At his funeral, the "Uncle Goopy" sketch was shown; among the eulogizers were Carl Reiner, who praised Morris's ability to improvise, in this and other TV work. He is entombed in Laurel Gardens Wall crypt at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.
- Boys Night Out (1962) - Howard McIllenny
- 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962) - Julius
- The Nutty Professor (1963) - Elmer Kelp
- Loopy DeLoop (Habit Rabbit) (1963, Short) - Raymond (voice)
- Fluffy (1965) - Sweeney
- Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966, Short) - Gopher (voice)
- Alice of Wonderland in Paris (1966) - The Frowning Prince / King (segment "The Frowning Prince") / Grand Wizard (voice)
- Way...Way Out (1966) - Schmidlap
- The Big Mouth (1967) - Cameo Role (uncredited)
- With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) - Hippie in Police Station (uncredited)
- Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968, Short) - Gopher (voice)
- Don't Drink the Water (1969) - Getaway Pilot (uncredited)
- The Comic (1969) - Pedestrian Gag Man in Love Honor and Oh Boy (uncredited)
- Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies (1972) - Franklin 'Frankie' Frankenstein / Wolfgang 'Wolfie' Wolfman / Orville (voice)
- Ten from Your Show of Shows (1973)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) - Gopher (voice)
- High Anxiety (1977) - Professor Lilloman
- History of the World, Part I (1981) - Court Spokesman (The Roman Empire)
- Splash (1984) - Dr. Zidell
- Return to Mayberry (1986, TV Movie) - Ernest T. Bass
- End of the Line (1987) - Hobo
- Transylvania Twist (1989) - Marinas Orlock
- Life Stinks (1991) - Sailor
- Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992) - Squawk (voice)
- I Yabba-Dabba Do! (1993, TV Movie) - (voice)
- Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby (1993, TV Movie) - Bird (voice)
- A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994, TV movie) - (voice)
- Lasting Silents (1997) - Julius Davis
- The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998) - Leo
Filmography (as director)
- The Twilight Zone (TV series) - season 4 - episode 12 - I Dream of Genie - George P. Hanley (1963)
- Wanted: Dead or Alive - episode - Detour - Clayton Armstrong (1961)
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents - episode - Most Likely to Succeed (1962)
- The Flintstones - 28 episodes - Jethro Hatrock/Weirdly Gruesome/Rockhead/The Kissing Burglar/Various Others (1962-1965)
- The Jetsons - 14 episodes - Harlan/Montique Jetson/Jet Screamer/Henry Orbit (1episode) / various voices (1962-1987)
- The Dick Van Dyke Show - episode - The Masterpiece - Mr. Holdecker (1963)
- Beetle Bailey - Beetle Bailey/Gen. Halftrack/Lt. Fuzz (1963)
- The Andy Griffith Show - 8 episodes - Ernest T. Bass/Various Others (1963-1965)
- Make Room for Daddy - episode - The Leprechaun - Sean (1964)
- The Magilla Gorilla Show - Mr. Peebles(1964-1965)
- Punkin' Puss and Mushmouse - Mushmouse (1964-1966)
- Breezly and Sneezly - Breezly Bruin (1964-1966)
- The Secret Squirrel Show - Additional Voices (1965)
- The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo (1965)
- The Atom Ant Show - Atom Ant (1965-1966))
- Alice in Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? - TV special - The White Rabbit (1966)
- The Archie Show - Forsythe "Jughead" Jones, "Big Moose" Mason and Dilton Doiley (1968-1978)
- The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park - Hocus / Pocus (1972)
- The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show - Doctor Dome (1979)
- Legends of the Superheroes - 2 TV specials - The Challenge and The Roast - Dr. Sivana (1979)
- Fantasy Island - 2 episodes (1980-1983)
- Shirt Tales- Shutter McBugg (1982)
- Trapper John, M.D. - 5 episodes - Dr. Jerry Hannigan / Dr. Kauffman (1982-1984)
- Alvin & the Chipmunks (1983)
- The Yellow Rose - episode - Sport of Kings - Johnny Hogan (1984)
- The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo - Bogel / Platypus Duck (1985)
- Star Fairies - TV special - Dragon Head #1 (1985)
- Snorks - Additional Voices (1985)
- Paw Paws - Trembly Paw (1985-1986)
- The Flintstone Kids - Additional Voices (1986-1988)
- Galaxy High - Professor Einstein / Luigi La Bounci (1986)
- Sesame Street - 4 episodes - Jughead Jones (1986-1993)
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears - Sir Paunch (1987)
- DuckTales - Dr. Von Swine / Happy Jack / additional voices (1987-1989)
- Little Clowns of Happytown - Mr. Pickleherring
- Superman - episode - Triple-Play/The Circus - Prankster / Oswald Loomis (1988)
- The New Yogi Bear Show - Additional Voices (1988)
- Fantastic Max - Additional Voices (1988-1989)
- Garfield and Friends - 121 episodes - Wade Duck /additional voices (1988-1994)
- The Further Adventures of SuperTed - Polka Face (1989)
- The Adventures of Ronald McDonald: McTreasure Island - Video Short - Hamburglar / Ben Gunn (1989)
- Murder, She Wrote - episode - Something Borrowed, Someone Blue - Uncle Ziggy (1989)
- Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone - 13 episodes (1990)
- Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers - Maltese de Sade (1990)
- Yo Yogi! - additional voices (1991)
- TaleSpin - King Amok (1991)
- Cow and Chicken - Flem (1997-1999)
- I Am Weasel - Additional voices (1997-2000)
Television (as director)
- The Dick Van Dyke Show - 5 episodes - The Ballad of the Betty Lou/A Nice, Friendly Game of Cards/Scratch My Car and Die/The Return of Edwin Carp/ The Case of the Pillow (1963-1965)
- The Andy Griffith Show - 6 episodes - Barney's Bloodhound/The Darling Baby/Andy and Helen Have Their Day/Three Wishes for Opie/Otis Sues the County/My Fair Ernest T. Bass (1964)
- Get Smart - episode - Mr. Big (1965)
- The Patty Duke Show- (1965)
- Bewitched - 3 episodes - We're in for a Bad Spell/Junior Executive/Prodigy (1965-1966)
- Hogan's Heroes - 14 episodes - (1965-1967)
- A Secret Agent's Dilemma, or A Clear Case of Mind Over Mata Hari - TV movie (1965)
- Good Old Days - TV movie (1966)
- Laredo - episode -That's Noway, Thataway (1966)
- Laverne & Shirley - episode - Frank's Fling (1977)
- The Beatrice Arthur Special - TV movie (1980)
- Trapper John, M.D. - 2 episodes - Billboard Barney & Life, Death and Dr. Christmas (1985-1986)
- Greenberg, Martin H. (1979). The Jewish Lists: Physicists and Generals, Actors and Writers, and Hundreds of Other Lists of Accomplished Jews. New York: Schocken Books. p. 198. ISBN 978-0805237115.
- "Howard Morris Biography (1919-)". Film Reference.
- Foster, Barbara (November 1983). "The Many Facets of a One-Time German Colonel, Werner Klemperer". Orange Coast.
- Bernstein, Adam (23 May 2005). "Comedian Howie Morris, 85, Dies". Retrieved 5 February 2018 – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- Margolick, David (14 February 2014). "Sid Caesar's Finest Sketch". Retrieved 5 February 2018 – via www.newyorker.com.
- p.386 H.W. Wilson Company Current Biography Yearbook (1962) H. W. Wilson Co., 1962
- Fox, Margalit (25 May 2005). "Howard Morris, an Actor in Television Comedies, Dies at 85". Retrieved 5 February 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
- Arbeiter, Michael (12 February 2014). "Why Sid Caesar's 'This Is Your Life' Parody Is Considered the Funniest Comedy Sketch Ever". Retrieved 5 February 2018.
- O'Brien, Conan. "Saw this Sid Caesar sketch when I was a kid. It made me want to make people laugh:http://bit.ly/1czDEsN". Retrieved 5 February 2018.
- Howard Morris Biography[permanent dead link], Hal Erickson, Allmovie
- "Qantas Airways Remembers Actor/Director Howard Morris, the Voice of the Qantas Koala" (Press release). Qantas Airways. May 27, 2005.
- Fox, Margalit (May 25, 2005). "Howard Morris, an Actor in Television Comedies, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
- "Goodbye, Uncle Goopy - News From ME". 28 May 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2018.