This short, quicksilver comic of TV’s “Golden Age” has been heard more than seen in the last few decades, as he possesses one of the finest vocal instruments around for animation. Howard (“Howie”) Morris was born in New York City in 1919 and forged his own destiny after a chance meeting with Carl Reiner in a radio workshop. After World War II, in which they entertained troops together, they performed in the stage musical “Call Me Mister”, then came aboard as part of Sid Caesar’s repertory/writing company in the classic sketch shows of the 1950s. After years of “second banana” success, however, Morris sought his own solo identity and went off to pursue work as an actor, director and voice artist. Since the early 1960s he has been a main staple of the Hanna-Barbera Productions vocal team, offering hundreds and hundreds of voices for The Flintstones (1960), The Jetsons (1962), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1971), and other such Saturday morning shows. Interspersed have been some catchy offbeat characterizations in front of the camera. He has given zest to a number of standard comedy films, including Boys’ Night Out (1962) with Kim Novak, The Nutty Professor (1963) and Way… Way Out (1966), both with Jerry Lewis, and Mel Brooks’ spoofs High Anxiety (1977) and History of the World: Part I (1981). Morris has directed Danny Thomas and Andy Griffith in their respective sitcoms, and made a wonderfully eccentric impression on-camera as the grizzled rock-tosser Ernest T. Bass in Griffith’s show. He was so popular in that role that he played it for three seasons.
He turned to film directing and helmed such fluff as Who’s Minding the Mint? (1967), With Six You Get Eggroll (1968), and Don’t Drink the Water (1969), written by Woody Allen’. Morris continued on with directing commercials and popping up here and there well into the 1990s.
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