Morgus the Magnificent
Morgus the Magnificent, also known as Momus Alexander Morgus, is a fictional character on television shows that originated in the New Orleans, Louisiana television market. From the late 1950s into the 1980s Morgus was a "horror host" of late-night science fiction and horror movies, and is back on the air as of October, 2006. Morgus is a quintessential mad scientist, created and portrayed by New Orleans actor Sidney Noel Rideau (Sid Noel). Assisted by executioner-styled sidekick, Chopsley (Tommy George), his well-intentioned experiments served as book-end pieces to the films, and typically go awry at the last minute.
Morgus first appeared on late night television on January 3, 1959, in the House of Shock, hosting the science fiction and horror movies in between experiments. The set was stated to be an upstairs garret over the Old City Ice House, with a fire escape exit into Pirate's Alley in the old French Quarter.
Morgus' first and only appearance on the big screen was in The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus (1962), which introduced his "Instant People Machine" that could transform people into sand and back to their original form. Dr. Morgus was investigated by a wonderfully stereotypical reporter known as "Pencils" and foreign agents from Microvania who sought to enter the United States by using the device. Instead of an invasion, its contents ended up as concrete, which was poured at a dedication ceremony for a new highway called "Peoples' Highway."
The most recent incarnation of the television show was "Morgus Presents" produced between 1986 and 1989. Fifty-two half-hour episodes were produced in the French Quarter studios of WDSU (channel 6). The program was broadcast, beginning in January 1987, on WGNO (channel 26). Long-time New Orleans television director and Morgus collaborator, Paul Yacich, directed all fifty-two episodes, some of which were later aired Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. on WVUE TV Channel 8.
Cast of Characters
Morgus was said to have descended from a long line of scientists dating back to Morgus the First, who was the architect of the first pyramid in Egypt. He mastered calculus at 5 years of age, and his mother and father (both scientists) sent him to the Vasco da Gama Medical school (the finest in the Caribbean) where he graduated with honors. He is reported to have an I.Q. "in the 300s".
His assistant Chopsley was a former medical school classmate, and an early experiment in "face transplant" surgery. Unfortunately this left him without a face when he laughed before the procedure could heal. As a result, he wears a full head mask at all times (with a zippered mouth to eat through).
Dr. Morgus also has an assistant named Eric. In the early version of the show, Eric was a talking human skull. When Morgus returned in the 1980s, Eric had become part of the computer known as E.R.I.C. (The Eon Research Infinity Computer), Eric's skull connected to a molecular integrated circuit which holds all the knowledge of the universe in his memory banks (thanks to the oversight of the Higher Order - see below), and whose sepulchral voice introduced the segments and frequently agreed with Morgus with a deep, resonant "Yes, Master". E.R.I.C. is also known for his sharp wit, and sometimes cutting remarks at Morgus. On the set, E.R.I.C. was portrayed by an Apple II with a skull as the speaker.
Mrs. Alma Fetish is Morgus' long-time (and long-suffering) landlady, who often forgets that scientific endeavors do not provide rent money on a regular basis. Veteran New Orleans stage actress, Janet Shea, portrayed Mrs. Fetish in the 1986-1989 "Morgus Presents" version of the show.
Morgus' manager is Wiley Faye. Wiley tried to bring the good doctor increased exposure and better business opportunities, but they never seemed to work out in the end. Wiley was portrayed in the 1986-1989 version of the program by actor Matt Borel, a familiar face from New Orleans area theatre and television commercials. Although he gave up acting in the late 90s, Borel went on to become a highly successful stage producer in New Orleans.
Career and Future
Over the past decades, Dr. Morgus claims to have published several scientific books, including his blockbuster "New Hope for the Dead", and the earth-shaking "Molecules I Have Known". He has discovered the speed of dark, and truly invented the Internet. He has continued to appear in several formats as a host for late night movies, railing against those idiots at the station and the idiots of the scientific community.
Morgus and Chopsley appeared at Pontchartrain Beach amusement park and local events in the early 1960s, and hosted a weather report in later years. Dr. Morgus, Chopsley and E.R.I.C. attempted to branch out across the country in syndicated appearances in Detroit in 1964, New York in the 1980s, and several other cities over the years, but he always returned to his headquarters in New Orleans.
Throughout, Dr. Morgus has acted as Earth's main member of the "Higher Order", a super-scientific secret society dedicated to helping the development of intelligence throughout the universe. His Momus Alexander Morgus Institute (M.A.M.I., pronounced "mammy") is (unintentionally) a non-profit organization of science as well.
His appearances continue to be telecast intermittently by what is arguably the most highly educated broadcast team in history, with every member holding no less than one Doctorate in a branch of science. Dr. Morgus continues to provide entertainment to the New Orleans area up to the present day. Due to his advanced experiments in life-prolongation, it is hoped he will always be there when the Crescent City needs him. It has been rumored that Dr. Morgus is a Master Mason 38 degree in the New Orleans Lodge. He is an advisor to many Masons in the Detroit and New York Lodges and others across the world.
In 2005, Morgus was back on the air in New Orleans on Cox 10 cable, mostly airing old episodes. When Hurricane Katrina hit, the whereabouts of Morgus were unknown for a brief period. Fans feared he may have been a victim of the storm. After a few weeks, an announcement on his official Web site put those fears to rest.
In October 2006, Morgus Presents had returned to Cox Cable channel 10 for a second season of vintage episodes.
In October 2011, Morgus the Magnificent had been picked up by WVUE Fox 8 in New Orleans.
- Watson, Elena M. (2000). Television Horror Movie Hosts: 68 Vampires, Mad Scientists and Other Denizens of the Late Night Airwaves Examined and Interviewed. Jefferson, North Carolina, United States: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-0940-1.
- This is highly dubious, as even the Scottish Rite Freemasons confer no more than 33 degrees.
- "Dr. Morgus - Guests". Coast to Coast AM. Retrieved 17 April 2012.