Wayne Morris (American actor)

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Wayne Morris
Wayne Morris (1948).jpg
Born (1914-02-17)February 17, 1914
Los Angeles, California
Died September 14, 1959(1959-09-14) (aged 45)
Cause of death heart attack
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Occupation actor
Years active 1936–1959
Spouse(s) Leonora Hornblow (1939–1940) (divorced) 1 son
Patricia O'Rourke (1942–1959 (his death) 2 daughters

Wayne Morris (February 17, 1914 – September 14, 1959) was an American film and television actor, as well as a decorated World War II fighter ace. He appeared in many notable films, including Paths of Glory (1957), The Bushwackers (1952), and the title role of Kid Galahad in 1937.

Early years[edit]

Morris was born Bert DeWayne Morris in Los Angeles. (Another source says that he was born in Pasadena, California.)[1] He attended Los Angeles City College and was a fullback on that school's varsity football team. He gained acting experience through his work at the Pasadena Playhouse.[1]

Military service[edit]

While filming Flight Angels (1940), Morris became interested in flying and became a pilot. With war in the wind, he joined the Naval Reserve and became a Navy flier in 1942, leaving his film career behind for the duration of the war. He flew the F6F Hellcat off the aircraft carrier USS Essex.

A December 15, 1944 Associated Press news story reported that Morris was "credited with 57 aerial sorties, shooting down seven Jap Zeros, sinking an escort vessel and a flak gunboat and helping sink a submarine and damage a heavy cruiser and a mine layer."[2] He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals.

Morris was considered by the Navy as physically 'too big' to fly fighters. After being turned down several times as a fighter pilot, he went to his uncle-in-law, Cdr. David McCampbell, imploring him for the chance to fly fighters. Cdr. McCampbell said "Give me a letter." He flew with the VF-15, the famed "McCampbell Heroes."


Morris's film debut came in China Clipper (1936).[3]

Morris's breakout movie was as the title character of Kid Galahad (1937), a story of a young prizefighter that featured some of Hollywood's biggest stars, Bette Davis, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart. His career flourished in films like Brother Rat, which starred Ronald Reagan, and in Bogart's only horror film, The Return of Doctor X, before military service took precedence in his life.

Following the war, Morris returned to films, but his nearly four-year absence had cost him his burgeoning stardom. He continued to act in movies, but the pictures, for the most part, sank in quality. Losing his boyish looks but not demeanor, Morris spent most of the fifties in low-budget westerns. He also appeared as a weakling Lieutenant Roget, one of the main characters, in Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957).


In 1957, Morris made his Broadway debut as a washed-up boxing champ in William Saroyan's The Cave Dwellers.


Morris starred in a 1956 episode of Science Fiction Theater, "Beam of Fire." In 1958, Morris appeared in Gunsmoke as "Ned," a groom almost shot to death.

Personal life[edit]

Morris married Patricia O'Rourke at the Long Beach, California Naval Air Base February 25, 1942.[4] O'Rourke was an Olympic swimmer, and sister to B-movie actress Peggy Stewart.

Morris was earlier married to Bubbles Schinasi. They divorced 18 months before his marriage to O'Rourke.[4]


Morris died of a coronary occlusion September 14, 1959, aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Wayne Morris Succumbs at 45; Born in Pasadena". Pasadena Independent. California, Pasadena. September 15, 1959. p. 1. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  2. ^ "Wayne Morris Home After 57 Sorties". The Pantagraph. Illinois, Bloomington. Associated Press. December 15, 1944. p. 1. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  3. ^ "Jobs Upon A Time". The Morning Herald. Maryland, Hagerstown. April 9, 1948. p. 20. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  4. ^ a b "Wayne Morris Weds Patricia O'Rourke". The Monroe News-Star. The Monroe News-Star. Associated Press. February 26, 1942. p. 7. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read

Further reading[edit]

  • Hoyt, Edwin P. McCampbell's Heroes: the Story of the U.S. Navy's Most Celebrated Carrier Fighter of the Pacific. ISBN 0442262892 OCLC 8826820
  • Wise, James. Stars in Blue: Movie Actors in America's Sea Services. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997. ISBN 1557509379 OCLC 36824724


External links[edit]