Barry Morse: RIP

February 2, 2008

Barry Morse English/Canadian/American actor died last Saturday, February 2, 2008 at the age of 89. His death after a brief illness was reported Tuesday by his son Hayward Morse. Well known for his role as detective Lt. Philip Girard in the 1960s show The Fugitive, Morse had a long, illustrious career.

He was born in London in 1918 and trained at Londonís Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he held the Leverhulme Scholarship from 1935 to 1936. He appeared in British repertory and West End theatres before moving to Canada in 1951. When Morse arrived, he had a letter of introduction from Val Gielgud, head of BBC drama and soon became popular with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As an actor, Morse helped establish precedents within the entertainment industry. Not only did he become a director, but when he starred in Macbeth, he insisted on being paid one dollar more than the previous $1,000 salary set by CBC, thus beginning an actorís right to negotiate for payment, which before had been regulated by Parliament.

In 1963, producer Quinn Martin hired him to play Lt. Girard on The Fugitive. As Girard he chased the wrongly accused Dr. Richard Kimble, leaving each episode in suspense of the catch. The series aired four seasons of 120 episodes. In 1966, he became the artistic director of the Shaw theater festival in Ontario, bringing it out of financial crisis. His son explained that Morse was a lifelong fan of playwright George Bernard Shaw and reviving the festival was his proudest achievement. Throughout his long career, Morse was a very busy actor with an estimated 3,000 roles on radio, TV, stage, and movies spanning seven decades, according to his website. He is survived by his son, several grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

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