Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Late Great Robert Morse

I was a fan of Robert Morse long before he started playing Bert Cooper on Mad Men. I was a young adult when I first saw How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967). I would later see him in such films as The Loved One (1965) and A Guide for the Married Man (1967). By the time of the first season of Mad Men, then, I was already an admirer of Mr. Morse. Of course, Mad Men would become one of my favourite shows, in a large part because of Robert Morse's performance as Bert. Sadly, Robert Morse died yesterday, April 20 2022 , at the age of 90.

Robert Morse was born May 18 1931 in Newtown, Massachusetts. His mother, May, was a pianist. His father, Charles owned a chain of movie theatres. It was his music teacher Henry Lasker, at Newtown High School, who developed an interest in entertainment in young Robert Morse. During the Korean War he served in the United States Navy. Following the war, Mr, Morse moved to New York City where he trained at the American Theatre Wing. He got a job as a rehearsal singer for the game show Named That Tune. An agent heard him and signed him up.

Robert Morse made his debut on Broadway in The Matchmaker in 1955. Later in the Fifties he appeared on Broadway in Say, Darling and Take Me Along. He made his television debut in the soap opera The Secret Storm in 1954. In the Fifties he guest starred on the shows Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Alcoa Hour, The Phil Silvers Show, Matinee Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Play of the Week. He made his film debut in an uncredited role in the movie The Proud and the Profane (1956). He reprised the role of Barnaby Tucker in the film version of The Matchmaker (1958).

The Sixties were arguably the heyday of Robert Morse's career. From 1961 to 1965 he starred as J. Pierrepont Finch in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway. He reprised the role in the 1967 movie of the same name. He starred in the cult film The Loved One (1965) as well as the sex comedy A Guide for the Married Man (1967). He also appeared in the movies The Cardinal (1963), Honeymoon Hotel (1964), Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (1967), Where Were You When the Lights Went Out (1969), and The Boatniks (1970). On television he starred in the short-lived, 1968 musical comedy series That's Life. He guest starred on the shows Shirley Temple's Storybook, Naked City, and The Red Skelton Show.

In the Seventies he appeared on Broadway in Sugar and So Long, 174th Street. He appeared on the television shows Alias Smith and Jones; Night Gallery; Love, American Style; and Fantasy Island. He provided voices for the animated specials The First Easter Rabbit and Jack Frost.   In the Eighties he appeared in the movies Hunk (1987) and The Emperor's New Clothes (1987).  He appeared on the TV shows All my Children; The Good Book; One Day at a Time; Masquerade; The Fall Guy; The Dukes of Hazzard; Tales of the Unexpected; Murder, She Wrote; Trapper John, M.D.; The Twilight Zone; and You Again?. He was the voice of Howler on Pound Puppies and was a guest voice on Monchchichis. He appeared on Broadway in Tru.

In the Nineties he starred on the television show City of Angels. He was a voice on the animated show ProStars. He appeared in the mini-series Wild Palms and The Wild West. He appeared on the TV shows American Playhouse, Union Square, and Suddenly Susan. He appeared in the TV movie Here Come the Munsters. He provided voices for the animated shows  Tiny Toon Adventures, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Superman, and The Wild Thornberrys.

It was in the Naughts that Robert Morse began a seven season run playing Bert Cooper on Mad Men. He appeared in the TV show Jeff Ltd. and provided a voice for an episode of The Legend of Korra. He appeared in the movie All About You (2002). In the Teens he starred in a season of American Crime Story and provided the voice of Santa Claus on Teen  Titans Go!. He appeared in the TV series Sofia the First and Corporate. He provided voices for an episode of Animals. He appeared in the parody TV movie Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie and in the film The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez (2012).  He appeared on Broadway in The Front Page.

Robert Morse was a wonderful actor. He was a gifted singer and a fine dancer. He was also a great actor with a perfect sense of timing. He was as at home in musicals as he was in comedies as he was in dramas. He could play a wide variety of roles, from a young man planning his uncle's funeral (The Loved One) to a window cleaner turned corporate executive (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) to Grandpa Munster. Indeed, it is a demonstration of just how versatile Robert Morse was that his two most famous roles are in a musical comedy (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and a television drama (Mad Men). What is more, Robert Morse was a success in multiple media, from Broadway to movies to television. If ever there was a triple threat, that was Robert Morse. There are very few talents as great as he was.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Liz Sheridan Passes On

Liz Sheridan, who played nosy neighbour Mrs. Ochmonek on ALF and Jerry's mother Helen on Seinfeld, died on April 15 at the age of 93.

Liz Sheridan was born on April 10 1929 in New York City. Her father was classical pianist Frank Sheridan. Her mother was concert singer Elizabeth Poole-Jones. She grew up in the suburb of Larchmont. As a young woman she made a living as a dancer. She later moved to the West Indies where she sang and played pianos at various bars. She spent 15 years in the West Indies before returning to New York City.

It was in 1971 that she made her debut on Broadway in Frank Merriwell. In the Seventies she appeared in the Broadway productions Hurry, Harry; Something's Afoot; Best Friend; Happy End; Ballroom; and Once a Catholic. She made her television debut in 1977 in an episode of Kojak.

In the Eighties she played the recurring role of Raquel Ochmonek on ALF. She guest starred on the shows The White Shadow, Archie Bunker's Place, Gimme a Break!, Tucker's Witch, St. Elsewhere, Oh Madeline, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, One Day at a Time, Three's a Crowd, Riptide, It's Your Move, Newhart, Moonlighting, Santa Barbara, Brothers, The A-Team, Who's the Boss, Hill Street Blues, Remington Steele, Cagney & Lacey, Easy Street, The Disney Sunday Movie, Throb, Family Ties, It's a Living, and Good Grief. She made her movie debut in Jekyll and Hyde...Together Again in 1982. In the Eighties she appeared in the movies Star 80 (1983), Nickel Mountain (1984), Avenging Angel (1985), School Spirit (1985), Legal Eagles (1986), and Who's That Girl (1987).

In the Nineties Liz Sheridan played Helen Seinfeld on the classic sitcom Seinfeld. She was the voice of Mrs. Stillman on the animated series Life with Louie. She guest starred on the shows Equal Justice; Murder, She Wrote; Herman's Head; Melrose Place; Empty Nest; Tom; Blossom; Double Rush; Sliders; Cleghorne!; and Noah Knows Best. She was a guest voice on the animated show The Itsy Bitsy Spider. She appeared in the movies Only You (1992), Wishman (1992), Forget Paris (1995), Wedding Bell Blues (1996), Always Say Goodbye; and Closing the Deal (2000).

In the Naughts she guest starred on the shows Complete Savages and Numb3rs. She was a guest voice on the animated show American Dad. She appeared in the movies Now You Know (2002), Play the Game (2009), and Trim (2010).

Liz Sheridan was a remarkable actress. Chances are very good that she will always be remembered as Mrs. Ochomonek on ALF and Jerry's mother on Seinfeld, but she played a large variety of roles on other shows. She appeared as a doctor on an episode of St. Elsewhere and as a judge on Equal Justice. She could play a number of different roles from nosy neighbours to an overprotective mother to various professionals. What is more, she always gave a good performance.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter 2022

Here at A Shroud of Thoughts, I realize that many people like some cheesecake to go with their eggs and chocolate bunnies. Because of that, every Easter I provide my readers with a bevy of vintage pinups. Without further ado, then, here are this year's pinups.

First up is Sharon Tate and a bunny!

Here's Mary Brodel with a little bunny and a giant egg.

Here's Pat Hall and another little bunny.

Elaine Riley is busy painting eggs!

And here is Mary Tyler Moore with a not so little bunny.

And last but not least, here is Ann Miler with another little bunny!

Happy Easter!