Howard Morris Dead at 86

Howard Morris (1919-2005)

His newswire obituary says comic actor Howard Morris is best known for playing lonesome hillbilly Ernest T. Bass, but true children of the television age revere Morris for his role as one of Sid Caesar's trusty supporting players on Your Show of Shows in the early '50s. Morris, in my mind, is probably best remembered for playing the clinging Uncle Goofy in a This is Your Life spoof, but his ability to play his part as a cog in the wheels of comedy was superlative, and his flexible voice made for a bounty of work in cartoon voiceover and character parts for years after.

My personal favourite Morris work is his narration of the Academy Award-winning cartoon short Munroe, based on the Jules Feiffer comic about a toddler who gets drafted into the U.S. army. Morris gives it a folksy spin, without overselling the humour of the situation.

Perhaps not a comic genius, per se, but a comedic technician of the highest order.


swac said...

Note to Ivan G.: I actually wrote this before I read your Morris tribute, but it damn near looks like plagarism, don't it? (Except I could never figure out if he was "Uncle Goofy" or "Uncle Goopy"...damn that muffled '50s mono TV sound.

Good call on Who's Minding the Mint though...I have this on a VHS pre-record--the only copy of it I've ever come across, actually--and plan to rewatch it when things get down to a dull roar around here.

Tom Sutpen said...

I've always had a fondness for "Who's Minding the mint?", which is a far more expert piece of comic filmmaking than anyone's reckoned; certainly better than anything Jerry Lewis was making in those years (though he was floundering).

That being said, Morris deserves no kudos whatsoever for what he did to Woody Allen's play "Don't Drink the Water" (but now that I think of it, Allen himself didn't exactly set the world afire with his rendering of it in 1994).

I recently found out that the old story about Sid Caesar hanging Morris out a ten-story window by his ankles was indeed a true one.

Tom Sutpen said...

oh . . . it was Uncle Goofy, by the way.

swac said...

Yay! Three cheers and a tiger for me!