British-Canadian actor-director Barry Morse, best known as the police detective in hot pursuit of David Janssen’s Dr. Richard Kimble in the TV series The Fugitive, has died in England at the age of 89.
Morse died at University College hospital in London on Saturday, his son, actor Hayward Morse, told The Canadian Press in an interview from Great Britain Monday.
He said his father was taken there last Wednesday after he began experiencing blackouts and was falling down.
“He was in hospital for three days before he died. So in the long term, he was in his own home up until three days before he died, which I think is pretty good,” said Hayward Morse.
“He was 89 years old and that’s a good long life. He’d accomplished a lot of things,” he said.
Morse was a remarkable man and a lovely human being,” said actor Martin Landau, who worked with Morse in the 1975 science-fiction series Space 1999.
“He was wonderful to work with, absolutely,” Landau said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Morse established himself in London theatrical circles before emigrating to Canada with his wife and two children in 1951 and the family obtained Canadian citizenship.
Morse’s career spanned seven decades and his website estimates he played more than 3,000 roles on radio, television, stage and in film.
It was a long way from the two-dollars-a-week messenger boy that he started out as a young teen — and Bethnal Green, a slum district of London where he was born 100 per cent Cockney.
His son said his father didn’t really have a preference between film or stage or television.
Morse joined the CBC in the early 1950s and worked for the public broadcaster in Montreal and Toronto.
He soon developed a reputation as being the busiest man in television. He wrote, narrated and produced his half-hour CBC Radio series, A Touch of Greasepaint, which ran for 14 years. He also appeared in Barry Morse Presents on television.
“He was instrumental in the very very beginnings of the CBC on television, and just really the beginnings of Canadian television, he was there,” said Robert E. Wood, an artist who co-authored Morse’s autobiography Remember With Advantages — Chasing The Fugitive and Other Stories from an Actor’s Life.
In 1963, Morse was hired by producer Quinn Martin to play Lieut. Philip Gerard on The Fugitive — a series that ran four seasons and 120 episodes.
“He was very proud of that. He always said he felt it was one of the best things television had produced,” said Hayward Morse.
Other television roles included several miniseries such as The Martian Chronicles, The Winds of War, Master of the Game, War and Remembrance and Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story.
His last theatrical movie, said Wood, was 1999’s Promise Her Anything, starring Billy Zane, although the film was shot under the title Taxman. Morse plays Zane’s great-great–great-grandfather who appears to him as a ghost in the film, which was recently released on DVD.