Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A rolling stone gathers no Morse

The news got a trifle lost amid all the political claptrap, but it's my sad duty to report that actor Barry Morse has passed away.

If you're of a certain age, you will recall Morse as the indomitable Lt. Philip Gerard in the classic 1960s TV drama The Fugitive. (Morse's character was the model for the Tommy Lee Jones role in the Fugitive theatrical film and its sequel, U.S. Marshals.)

For four tension-filled seasons, Gerard pursued the innocent yet accused Dr. Richard Kimble — played by one of television's most memorable stars, David Janssen — before gunning down the one-armed murderer of Kimble's wife in the final episode. That shocking conclusion stood for years as TV's most-viewed hour, until those infernal Super Bowls began catching up.

Slightly more youthful teleholics remember that in the mid-'70s, Morse costarred alongside Mission: Impossible veterans Martin Landau and Barbara Bain in the first season of Space: 1999. It was never clear to me whether Morse actually left the sci-fi series after the first year, or perhaps simply dozed off in his dressing room while reading the notoriously soporific show's next script and no one bothered to awaken him.

If you happen to encounter Mr. Morse in the near future, however, I don't believe he's sleeping.

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