Morris as Ernest T. Bass, 1960s.
Howard Jerome Morris|
September 4, 1919
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
May 21, 2005 (aged 85)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor, director|
|Years active||1937–2005 (his death)|
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 vocied 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.
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. Morris also directed some episodes of Hogan's Heroes, The Dick Van Dyke Show and the black and white pilot episode of Get Smart.
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)
- Who's Minding the Mint? (1967)
- With Six You Get Eggroll (1968)
- Don't Drink the Water (1969)
- Goin' Coconuts (1978)
- 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)
Complete Movie & Television Appearances:
- Actor (31 Credits)
Title Role Year This Is Your Story (TV Show)
Baywatch (TV Show) Memorial Day — 1997 Scorcher — 1996
1996 - 1997
Boogie Nights (Movie)
Mr. Brown 1997
It Came From Outer Space II (Movie)
Ben Cully 1996
A Flintstones Christmas Carol (Movie)
Tom And Jerry - The Movie (Movie)
Dying Young (Movie)
Voice on Jetsons 1991
Life Stinks (Movie)
Head of the Class (TV Show) Fillmore vs. Betty Jean's — 1990
Transylvania Twist (Movie)
Marinus Orlock 1989
End Of The Line (Movie)
The Love Boat (TV Show) Santa, Santa, Santa; Another Dog Gone Christmas; Noel's Christmas Carol — 1984
Billy Banks 1984
Dr. Zidell 1984
History Of The World, Part 1 (Movie)
Court Spokesman 1981
High Anxiety (Movie)
Prof. Lilloman 1977
Love, American Style (TV Show) Love and the Eyewitnesses; The Plumber; The College Professor; The Lady Barber — 1971 Love and the Plumber; Love and the New Size
Mr. Magoo's Holiday Festival (Movie)
Don't Drink The Water (Movie)
Getaway Pilot 1969
Way...Way Out (Movie)
The Andy Griffith Show (TV Show) Malcolm at the Crossroads Andy and Helen Have Their Day The Education of Ernest T. Bass See all 6 Episodes Ernest T. Bass The Lucy Show (TV Show) Lucy and the Golden Greek;
Make Room for Daddy (TV Show) The Leprechaun
The Dick Van Dyke Show (TV Show) The Masterpiece
The Twilight Zone (TV Show) I Dream of Genie
George P. Hanley
The Nutty Professor (Movie)
Father Kelp 1963
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV Show) Most Likely to Succeed
Thriller (TV Show) The Lethal Ladies
Boys' Night Out (Movie)
Howard McIlleny 1962
Forty Pounds Of Trouble (Movie)
Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV Show) Detour
Voice (21 Credits) Title Role Year Garfield and Friends (TV Show) Clown Face; Feline Felon; Banzai — 2018 Helping Hand; Count Lasagna; Mystery Guest — 2018 Party; Odielocks and The Three Cats; Carrot — 2018 See all 224 Episodes Wade Duck/Wart 2018 Sabrina the Teenage Witch (TV Show)
Gerald McBoing-Boing (TV Show) Cheese, Birds, and Cave Kids — 2006 The Dentist, the Sheep and the Two Anniversary Gifts — 2006 Baby Sister, Chalk and King Gerald — 2006 See all 14 Episodes Gerald McBoing-Boing 2006 Cow and Chicken (TV Show) Chachi the Chewing Gum Seal/Black Sheep of the Family/Enemy Camp — 1999 Careful What You Wish For; Lost at Sea; I.R. Do — 1998 Me an' My Dog; Cow's Dream Catcher; Dessert Island — 1998 See all 60 Episodes Earl 1998 - 1999 The Magilla Gorilla Show (TV Show)
Galaxy High School (TV Show) It Came From Earth — 1986 Martian Mumps — 1986 Founder's Day — 1986 See all 13 Episodes Professor Icenstein/Luigi La Bounci 1986 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (TV Show) Horror-Scope Scoob — 1985 The Ghouliest Show on Earth — 1985 Scooby in Kwackyland — 1985 See all 10 Episodes Bogel 1985 Paw Paws (TV Show)
The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty (TV Show)
Mission: Magic (TV Show)
My Favorite Martians (TV Show)
Tim O'Hara/Off. Brennan/Tiny/Crumbs/Chump
The Groovie Goolies (TV Show)
Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down? (TV Show)
Mr. Blunderbuss/Rotten Ralph
The Archie Show (TV Show) Rocket Rock; Par One Kid's Day; Jughead Sampson Jones Hot Rod Drag; Snowbusiness See all 17 Episodes Jughead Jones/Big Moose/Dilton Doiley The Flintstones (TV Show) Surfin' Fred The Hatrocks and the Gruesomes The Gruesomes See all 26 Episodes Al The Andy Griffith Show (TV Show) Barney's Bloodhound
King Features Trilogy (TV Show)
Beetle Bailey/Gen. Halftrack
The Jetsons (TV Show) A Date With Jet Screamer
Beetle Bailey (TV Show)
Beetle Bailey/Gen. Halftrack/Lt. Fuzz
Archie's Funhouse (TV Show)
Archie's Funhouse (TV Show) Coke Head/Shadow Boxing Animal Antics/Roller Rink Snowball Skating/Bumsteer's Annual Rodeo See all 12 Episodes Jughead Director (20 Credits) Title Role Year Private Benjamin (TV Show) For Love of Judy — 1981
The Love Boat (TV Show) Vicki and the Gambler; Love With a Skinny Stranger; That Old Gang of Mine — 1981
Goin' Coconuts (Movie)
Laverne & Shirley (TV Show) Frank's Fling — 1977
One Day at a Time (TV Show) Father David — 1976 The College Man — 1976 Julie's Job — 1976 See all 4 Episodes 1976 The Little People (TV Show)
Get Smart (TV Show) The Not So Great Escape To Sire, with Love Mr. Big
Don't Drink The Water (Movie)
With Six You Get Eggroll (Movie)
Hogan's Heroes (TV Show) The Top Secret Top Coat The Flame Grows Higher Cupid Comes to Stalag 13 See all 13 Episodes Who's Minding The Mint? (Movie)
Bewitched (TV Show) Prodigy Junior Executive We're in for a Bad Spell
The Double Life of Henry Phyfe (TV Show) The Reluctant Lover
Laredo (TV Show) That's Noway, Thataway
Please Don't Eat the Daisies (TV Show) How About Two Gorillas?
The Patty Duke Show (TV Show) Patty and the Cut-Rate Casanova
The Dick Van Dyke Show (TV Show) The Case of the Pillow The Return of Edwin Carp Scratch My Car and Die See all 5 Episodes The Andy Griffith Show (TV Show) Otis Sues the County Three Wishes for Opie Andy and Helen Have Their Day See all 8 Episodes Gomer Pyle, USMC (TV Show) Sgt. Carter, Marine Baby-sitter They Shall Not Pass
The Bill Dana Show (TV Show) The Suggestion Box
Performer (2 Credits) Title Role Year Your Show of Shows (TV Show) Wendell Corey — 2017 Margaret Lindsay — 2017
Best of Your Show of Shows (TV Show)
Appearing (1 Credit) Title Role Year Mel Brooks Strikes Back (TV Show)
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 - 5 episodes - Barney's Bloodhound/The Darling Baby/Andy and Helen Have Their Day/Three Wishes for Opie/Otis Sues the County (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. External link in
- 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.