Robert Morse

Active - 1956 - 2016  |   Born - May 18, 1931 in Newton, Massachusetts, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Children's/Family, Drama, Mystery, Romance

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Puckish comic actor Robert Morse had studied with Lee Strasberg before his film debut in 1956's Proud and the Profane. This bit role led to a Paramount contract, though this early attempt to make Morse a movie star went no further than his re-creation of his stage role in The Matchmaker (1958). He went on to show up on TV in a variety of roles (he was a juvenile delinquent on Hitchcock), but was more successful on Broadway, co-starring in the musicals Say Darling and Take Me Along. In Frank Loesser's 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Morse, as the ambitious J. Pierpont Finch, entered Broadway Valhalla when he sang the show's big romantic song "I Believe in You" -- while looking at himself in a mirror. Morse won a Tony award for this performance, and in 1967 reprised the role for the film version. One year later, he co-starred with E.J. Peaker in the experimental weekly TV musical-comedy series That's Life. His best post-How to Succeed film role was the philandering best friend of Walter Matthau in A Guide for the Married Man (1967). In the early '70s, Morse starred in another long-running Broadway effort, Sugar, a musical version of Some Like It Hot. Morse had some difficulty maintaining a starring career into the 1980s, but in 1990 made a triumphant return to Broadway (and won another Tony in the bargain) for his one-man Truman Capote-show Tru. In later years, Robert Morse starred on Broadway and the road as Captain Andy in Harold Prince's glittering revival of Show Boat, and was seen as Grandpa Munster on the 1995 "retro" TV movie Here Come the Munsters.

He did not appear on screen again for twelve years, but his return was in one of the most respected TV programs of its time. He was cast as Bert Cooper, one of the men who gave their name to the advertising agency that was the focus of Mad Men, a show that set a record by winning the Emmy for Best Drama series each of its first four seasons.

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Factsheet

  • Studied with acting guru Lee Strasberg.
  • Was in the original 1954 cast of the CBS soap opera The Secret Storm.
  • Won a Tony in 1961 for his lead role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and reprised the role in the 1967 big-screen treatment.
  • Went 17 years between film appearances: From 1970's The Boatniks to 1987's Hunk.
  • Won a Tony in 1990 as Truman Capote in the one-man show Tru, then re-created the role in 1992 for PBS and won an Emmy.
  • At age 76, he found renewed success when he was cast as quirky ad agency boss Bertram Cooper in AMC's hit series Mad Men.