Barry Morse

d. February 2, 2008

Barry Morse, the actor who gained TV immortality playing Lt. Philip Gerard, relentless pursuer of Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, died Feb. 2 at University College Hospital in London. He was 89.

Lt. Gerard appeared in less than one-third of The Fugitive’s 120 episodes, but he was the omnipresent sense of doom enshrouding the unjustly convicted Kimble as he traveled the country, desperately eluding the law while searching for the one-armed man who murdered his wife. The series was one of television’s biggest hits from its 1963 debut until its famous finale on Aug. 29, 1967, which remained the highest-rated TV episode ever broadcast until the revelation of who shot J.R. on Dallas.

Morse was born in London, grew up poor and left school at 14. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art on a scholarship. After graduating in 1937, he worked his way into the city’s busy West End theater world and appeared in BBC radio and early television productions. He moved to Canada in 1951 and soon became a fixture of the nascent CBC television network.

Morse started to show up on American TV shows in the late 1950s, with roles in The U.S. Steel Hour, Playhouse 90, The DuPont Show of the Month, Naked City, Adventures in Paradise, Wagon Train, The Defenders, The Twilight Zone and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. A guest shot in The Untouchables that producer Quinn Martin remembered led to Martin casting him as Gerard, who for four years subjected Kimble to “the relentless pursuit of the police lieutenant obsessed with his capture,” as narrator William Conrad solemnly intoned in the ritual opening each week.

Since he was not seen in The Fugitive every week, Morse often returned to Canada to appear on stage and in radio and television programs. He also went back to Britain where he played a villain in The Saint, and had roles in American TV shows like The Outer Limits (a humorous episode in which he and Carroll O’Connor played Martians), East Side West Side and Profiles in Courage. After The Fugitive ended, he appeared in Quinn Martin’s The Invaders and The FBI, as well as Judd for the Defense, N.Y.P.D. and The Storefront Lawyers.

Back in Britain in 1972, Morse appeared in three projects for Lew Grade’s prolific production company ITC. He was a semi-regular in The Adventurer as Mr. Parminter, intelligence chief to the agent played by Gene Barry. This poorly made half-hour series lasted only one season on ITV in Britain and in prime-time-access syndication in the United States. He then starred with Brian Keith, John Mills and Lilli Palmer in The Zoo Gang, a 1974 mini-series based on Paul Gallico’s novel about World War II resistance fighters who team again in middle age to right wrongs across Europe.

In 1975, ITC and producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson launched Space: 1999, a spectacularly expensive science fiction series starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. Morse was cast as Prof. Victor Bergman, chief scientist of the lunar base that is sent careening through the galaxy after the moon is blasted out of Earth orbit. Morse agreed with most viewers that the show’s concept and characters were ridiculous and the plots made no sense, leading him to quit after completing the first season. The series continued for one more season without him.

Morse tried his hand at directing, mostly in the theater and with a number of television plays in Canada and Britain. He also directed one episode of The Fugitive and three of The Adventurer, but mostly stuck with his first love, acting. Some of his later roles included the 1980 TV adaptation of The Martian Chronicles, the epic mini-series The Winds of War and its sequel War and Remembrance, and episodes of TV series produced in Canada for U.S. syndication, including Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, TekWar, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and La Femme Nikita.

Right: Morse as Mr. Parminter in “The Adventurer.”

Below: Morse and co-star Barbara Bain welcome

visitors to the set of “Space: 1999.”


Top to bottom: Bill Raisch as the infamous one-armed man, with David Janssen and Barry Morse in “The Fugitive”; “TV Guide” for Aug. 19, 1967; Morse and Roger Moore in “The Saint.” Left: Morse, John Mills, Lilli Palmer and Brian Keith in “The Zoo Gang.”