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Karen Morrow

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Karen Morrow
Morrow in 1962
Born (1936-12-15) December 15, 1936 (age 87)
Occupation(s)Actress, singer
Years active1958–present

Karen Morrow (born December 15, 1936) is an American singer and actress best known for her work in musical theater. Her honors include an Emmy Award and a Theatre World Award, and an Ovation Award and five Drama-Logue Award nominations.[1]

Early life and Broadway career[edit]

Morrow was born in Chicago and raised in Des Moines, Iowa by parents who were both classical singers. As a teenager, she heard recordings by actress/singer Susan Johnson, which inspired her to try musical theater, beginning with the role of Meg in Brigadoon.[2]

After graduating from St. Joseph Academy (Des Moines, Iowa) in 1954, she graduated from Clarke College in 1958.[2] She then moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she taught and performed on the side, and then moved to Manhattan. Her career began with an appearance in the Off-Broadway show Sing, Muse! in 1961; she won a 1962 Theatre World Award for her performance.[3] She played Luce in a 1963 Off-Broadway revival of Rodgers & Hart's The Boys from Syracuse [4] and a number of roles in City Center over the next five years, including The Most Happy Fella in 1966 as Cleo.[5]

I Had a Ball, Morrow's first Broadway production, opened in December 1964, and folded six months later amid lackluster reviews. Most of Morrow's later Broadway productions had short runs despite some impressive casts. Two years later, she appeared as Mary Texas in A Joyful Noise, a misconceived effort to incorporate country music into a Broadway show. It closed after four previews and 12 performances. Next she played Na'Ama in 1968's I'm Solomon, which closed after nine previews and seven performances. In November 1971, she appeared as Babylove in The Grass Harp (co-starring Barbara Cook, based on Truman Capote's novel of the same name), which lasted one week at the Martin Beck Theatre, but brought her good notices, especially for her rendition of "Babylove Miracle Show". In 1972, Morrow appeared as Irene Jantzen in another short-lived Broadway production, The Selling of the President, which had 5 regular performances.[6] Her last Broadway performance was as The Princess Puffer/Miss Angela Prysock in The Mystery of Edwin Drood , as a replacement, in December 1986. [7]

Asked why so many of the Broadway shows that she appeared in were flops, Morrow said "I've analyzed this, trying to think of why I've had so many flops. I keep coming back to my contemporaries...it was always the ones who could sing but also had something extra, something interesting about themselves...I think with me, I was just a singer with a big voice and I was pleasant, and that can only take you so far."[8]

Later years[edit]

From 1969, she lived in Los Angeles, where she worked on local cable in a short-lived series titled Singin' that co-starred her friend and peer Nancy Dussault and appeared regularly on The Jim Nabors Hour (1969), The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show and Match Game. She won an Emmy Award (with Nancy Dussault) for the PBS program "Cabaret Tonight".

Other TV work included appearances on Girl Talk (1968), Love, American Style (1973/two episodes), Medical Center (1974), Paul Sand in Friends & Lovers (1974), Karen (1975/two episodes), Starsky & Hutch (1976), Tabitha (1977), Alice (1979), Friends (1979), Ladies' Man (1980), The Love Boat (1979 and 1982/two episodes), Too Close for Comfort (1983), Trapper John, M.D. (1983), Goodnight, Beantown (1984), Falcon Crest (1988/two episodes), Murder, She Wrote (1988–1989), Night Court (1989) and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996–97).

Morrow appeared in three TV movies: Eve Wister in I Was a Mail Order Bride (1982), Martha Biggs in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), and Mrs. Turner in Cage Without a Key (1975).[9]

She was also a regular on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion.

Her stage work outside of New York has included Parthy in Show Boat (1997, national tour of the 1994 Broadway production), [10] Die Fledermaus, It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman (1967 revival), Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, Sally Adams in Call Me Madam (2000), Hello, Dolly!, Oliver!, Carlotta in Follies (1990 Long Beach Civic Light Opera)[11] Sweeney Todd and A New Brain. She also has appeared in concerts with major orchestras in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Honolulu.

She can be heard on the 2002 concept album Miss Spectacular, a studio recording of an unproduced work by Jerry Herman, with whom she has worked and recorded extensively.[12] Other albums include An Evening with Jerry Herman (1998).

Morrow taught musical theatre performance at UCLA and continues to teach master classes in performance and audition skills. She is a member of the faculty of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.[13][14]


Year Title Role Notes
1962 The Red Skelton Show Guest Vocalist episode: "One Good Intern Deserves Another"
1969–1970 The Jim Nabors Hour Blanche episodes #1.2, #1.15
1973 Love, American Style Elizabeth / Mrs. Sommers segments: "Love and the Vertical Romance", "Love and the Odd Couples"
1974 Medical Center Norma episode: "The World's Balloon"
Paul Sand in Friends & Lovers Trudy episode: "Maid in the Snow"
1975 Cage Without a Key Mrs. Turner TV movie
Karen Cerita episode: "A Day in the Life"
1976 Good Heavens Lila episode: "Jack the Ribber and Me"
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble Martha Biggs TV movie
Starsky & Hutch Mitzi Graham episode: "Nightmare"
1977–1978 Tabitha Aunt Minerva main role (12 episodes)
1979 Alice Ina Simpson episode: "Alice's Decision"
Friends Pamela Richards main role (5 episodes)
The Love Boat Daphne Knox Episode: "The Grass Is Always Greener/Three Stages of Love/Oldies but Good"
1979–1980 Password Plus Herself March 1979 and October 1980
1980 That's Me, Too Værtshusgæst movie
1980–1981 Ladies' Man Betty Brill main role (16 episodes)
1982 The Love Boat Ruth Gaylor Episode: "Baby Talk/My Friend, the Executrix/Programmed for Love"
I Was a Mail Order Bride Eve Whister TV movie
1983 Too Close for Comfort Karen Day episode: "The Yearning Point"
Trapper John, M.D. Karen episode: "May Divorce Be with You"
Goodnight, Beantown Pauline 2 episodes: "Invasions of Privacy", "Valerie's Fan"
1988 Falcon Crest Bernice Haberman 2 episodes: "Hornet's Nest", "A Madness Most Discreet"
1989 Murder, She Wrote Gladys episode: "Double Exposure"
Night Court Amanda Caswell episode: "For Love or Money"
1997 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Nana episode: "Sweet Charity"


  1. ^ "Karen Morrow". Duke University; Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.
  2. ^ a b Longden, Tom. "Famous Iowans: Karen Morrow" Des Moines Register, accessed August 2, 2016
  3. ^ Dietz, Dan. Sing, Muse! Off Broadway Musicals, 1910–2007: Casts, Credits, Songs, Critical Reception and Performance Data of More Than 1,800 Shows, McFarland, 2010, ISBN 978-0786457311, p. 411
  4. ^ The Boys from Syracuse Lortel Archives, accessed August 2, 2016
  5. ^ " 'The Most Happy Fella' 1966" Ovrtur.com, accessed August 2, 2016
  6. ^ " 'The Selling of the President' Broadway" Playbill (vault), accessed August 2, 2016
  7. ^ " 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood' Broadway Cast" Playbill (vault), accessed August 2, 2016
  8. ^ Pela, Robert L. "Teacher, Teacher" Phoenix New Times, October 12, 2006
  9. ^ " 'Cage Without a Key' Overview" Turner Classic Movies, accessed August 2, 2016
  10. ^ Glaser, Blair and Lefkowitz, David. "Three 'Show Boat's Sail into U.S. Cities" Playbill, June 2, 1997
  11. ^ Mandelbaum, Ken. "Ken Mandelbaum's MUSICALS ON DISC: 'Follies' on Disc" Playbill, April 12, 1998
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Jerry Herman's 'Miss Spectacula' Gets All-Star Studio Cast Recording June 11" Playbill, April 2, 2002
  13. ^ Profile of Morrow at the US Performing Arts website[dead link]
  14. ^ "Songfest" Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]