Victor Morrow (born Victor Morozoff; February 14, 1929 – July 23, 1982) was an American actor and director whose credits include a starring role in the 1960s ABC television series Combat!, prominent roles in a handful of other television and film dramas, and numerous guest roles on television. Morrow also gained notice for his roles in movies Blackboard Jungle (1955), King Creole (1958), God's Little Acre (1958), Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974), and The Bad News Bears (1976).
February 14, 1929
Bronx New York City, U.S.
|Died||July 23, 1982 (aged 53)|
|Cause of death||Accidental decapitation by helicopter rotor blades|
|Resting place||Hillside Memorial Park|
Culver City, California
|Other names||Victor Morrow|
|Children||2, including Jennifer Jason Leigh|
Morrow was born in the New York City borough of the Bronx, to a middle-class Jewish family. He was a son of Harry Morozoff, an electrical engineer, and his wife Jean (Kress) Morozoff. Morrow dropped out of high school when he was 17 and enlisted in the United States Navy.
Morrow attracted attention playing Stanley Kowalski in a touring production of A Streetcar Named Desire. His first movie role was in Blackboard Jungle (1955), playing a thug student who torments teacher Glenn Ford.
It was made by MGM, who then put Morrow in Tribute to a Bad Man (1956). Morrow appeared in TV, guest starring on shows like The Millionaire, Matinee Theatre, Climax!, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Restless Gun, Trackdown, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, and Telephone Time.
Morrow had support roles in Men in War (1957), directed by Anthony Mann, and he was third billed in Hell's Five Hours (1958). He starred alongside Elvis Presley and an all-star supporting cast including Walter Matthau and Carolyn Jones in the movie King Creole (1958), directed by Michael Curtiz. Mann asked him back for God's Little Acre (1958).
However Morrow remained mostly a TV actor, appearing in Naked City, Wichita Town, The Rifleman, The Lineup, Johnny Ringo, The Brothers Brannagan, The Law and Mr. Jones, The Lawless Years, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, General Electric Theatre, Target: The Corruptors, The Tall Man, Outlaws, Bonanza and The Untouchables.
He was cast in the early Bonanza episode "The Avenger" as a mysterious figure known only as "Lassiter" – named after his town of origin – who arrives in Virginia City, and helps save Ben and Adam Cartwright from an unjust hanging, while eventually gunning down one sought-after man, revealing himself as a hunter of a lynch mob who killed his father; having so far killed about half the mob, he rides off into the night, in an episode that resembles the later Clint Eastwood film High Plains Drifter. Morrow later appeared in the third season Bonanza episode The Tin Badge.
Morrow was cast as soldier/engineer Lt. Robert Benson in the 1962 episode, "A Matter of Honor", on the syndicated anthology series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews. The story focuses on Benson's fiancé, Indiana (Shirley Ballard) (1925–2012), who tries to persuade him to boost their income by selling inside Army information to criminal real estate moguls like Joseph Hooker (Howard Petrie). Trevor Bardette and Meg Wyllie were cast in the roles of Captain and Mrs. Warner.
TV's longest-running World War II drama (1962–1967) was really a collection of complex 50-minute movies. Salted with battle sequences, they follow a squad's travails from D-Day on – a gritty ground-eye view of men trying to salvage their humanity and survive. Melodrama, comedy, and satire come into play as top-billed Lieutenant Hanley (Rick Jason) and Sergeant Saunders (Vic Morrow) lead their men toward Paris ... The relentlessness hollows antihero Saunders out: at times, you can see the tombstones in his eyes."
His friend and fellow actor on Combat!, Rick Jason, described Morrow as "a master director" who directed "one of the greatest anti-war films I've ever seen". He was referring to the two-part episode of Combat! entitled Hills Are for Heroes, which was written by Gene L. Coon.
Deathwatch and A Man Called SledgeEdit
Morrow also worked as a television director. Together with Leonard Nimoy, he produced the 1965 film Deathwatch, an English-language film version of Jean Genet's play Haute Surveillance, adapted by Morrow and Barbara Turner, directed by Morrow, and starring Nimoy.
In 1969 he set up his own company, Carleigh.
Morrow wrote and directed a Spaghetti Western, produced by Dino DeLaurentiis, titled A Man Called Sledge (1970) and starring James Garner, Dennis Weaver and Claude Akins. After Deathwatch, it was Morrow's first and only big screen outing behind the camera. Sledge was filmed in Italy with desert-like settings that were highly evocative of the Southwestern United States.
In the 1970s Morrow starred in some TV movies including A Step Out of Line (1971), Travis Logan, D.A. (1971) (playing the title role), River of Mystery (1971), The Glass House (1972), The Weekend Nun, Tom Sawyer (1973), Nightmare (1974).
Morrow appeared in two episodes of Australian-produced anthology series The Evil Touch (1973), one of which he also directed.
He played the wily local sheriff in director John Hough's road classic Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, as well as the homicidal sheriff, alongside Martin Sheen, in the television film The California Kid (1974), and The Take (1974).
Morrow had the lead in Funeral for an Assassin (1975). He had key roles in Death Stalk (1975), Scar Tissue (1975), The Night That Panicked America (1975), Treasure of Matecumbe (1976) and had a key role, as aggressive, competitive baseball coach Roy Turner, in the comedy The Bad News Bears (1976).
In the late 1970s Morrow worked increasingly in mini series such as Captains and the Kings (1977), Roots and The Last Convertible (1979), as well as guest starring on shows like Bronc, Hunter, The Littlest Hobo and Charlie's Angels.
Morrow had the lead in The Ghost of Cypress Swamp (1977), the Japanese film Message from Space (1978) and The Evictors (1979). He was in TV movies The Man with the Power (1977), The Hostage Heart (1977), Curse of the Black Widow (1977), Wild and Wooly (1978), Stone (1979), Paris (1980)
In 1958, Morrow married actress and screenwriter Barbara Turner. They had two daughters, Carrie Ann Morrow (1958–2016) and actress Jennifer Jason Leigh (born 1962). Morrow's marriage to Barbara ended in divorce after seven years. He married Gale Lester in 1975, but they separated just prior to Morrow's death in late July 1982.
Morrow fell out with his daughter Jennifer after his divorce from her mother. She changed her last name to Leigh and they were still estranged at the time of his death.
Rick Jason, co-star of Combat!, wrote in his memoirs that Morrow "had an absolute dislike of firearms. He used a Thompson submachine gun in our series, but that was work. In any other respect he'd have nothing to do with them."
In 1982, Morrow was cast in a feature role in Twilight Zone: The Movie, in a segment directed by John Landis. Morrow was playing the role of Bill Connor, a racist who is taken back in time and placed in various situations where he would be a persecuted victim: as a Jewish man in Vichy France, a black man about to be lynched by the Ku Klux Klan, and a Vietnamese man about to be killed by U.S. soldiers.
In the early morning hours of July 23, 1982, Morrow and two child actors, seven-year-old Myca Dinh Le and six-year-old Renee Shin-Yi Chen, were filming on location in California, in an area that was known as Indian Dunes, near Santa Clarita. They were performing in a scene for the Vietnam sequence, in which their characters attempt to escape out of a deserted Vietnamese village from a pursuing U.S. Army helicopter. The helicopter was hovering at approximately 24 feet (7.3 m) above them when the heat from special effect pyrotechnic explosions reportedly delaminated the rotor blades and caused the helicopter to plummet and crash on top of them, killing all three instantly. Morrow and Le were decapitated and mutilated by the helicopter rotor blades, while Chen was crushed by a helicopter skid.
Landis and four other defendants, including the helicopter pilot Dorsey Wingo, were ultimately acquitted of involuntary manslaughter after a nearly nine-month trial. The parents of Le and Chen sued and settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Both of Morrow's daughters also sued and settled for an undisclosed amount.
|1955||Blackboard Jungle||Artie West|
|It's a Dog's Life||Wildfire the dog||Voice, Uncredited|
|1956||Tribute to a Bad Man||Lars Peterson|
|The Millionaire||Joey Diamond||Episode: "The Joey Diamond Story"|
|Climax!||Ted||Episode: "Strange Hostage"|
|1957||Men in War||Corporal James Zwickley|
|Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Benny Mungo||Episode "A Little Sleep"|
|1958||Richard Diamond, Private Detective||Joe Rovi||Episode: "The Ed Church Case"|
|Hell's Five Hours||Burt Nash|
|God's Little Acre||Shaw Walden|
|1958-1959||The Rifleman||Johnny Cotton||ABC-TV, 2 episodes|
|1959||Naked City||David Greco||ABC-TV, Episode: "The Shield"|
|Johnny Ringo||Bill Stoner||CBS-TV, Episode: "Kid With a Gun"|
|1960||The Brothers Brannagan||Locke||Syndicated TV, series premiere, Episode: "Tune in for Murder"|
|The Barbara Stanwyck Show||Leroy Benson||NBC-TV, Episode: "The Key to the Killer"|
|1960-1961||Bonanza||Lassiter / Ab Brock||2 episodes|
|1960-1962||The Untouchables||Vince Shirer / Collier||2 episodes|
|1961||Posse from Hell||Crip|
|The Law and Mr. Jones||Dr. Bigelow||ABC-TV, Episode: "A Very Special Citizen"|
|Portrait of a Mobster||Dutch Schultz|
|The Tall Man||Skip Farrell||NBC-TV, Episode: "Time of Foreshadowing"|
|1962||The New Breed||Belman||ABC-TV, Episode: "To Sell Another Human Being"|
|1962–1967||Combat!||Sergeant Chip Saunders||ABC-TV, 152 episodes|
|1969||Target: Harry||Harry Black||Alternative titles: What's In it For Harry?, How to Make It|
|1970||A Man Called Sledge||Gold Guard Scout||Uncredited|
|The Immortal||Sheriff Dan W. Wheeler||Episode: "The Rainbow Butcher"|
|Dan August||Steve Harrison||ABC-TV, Episode: "The Union Forever"|
|1971||Hawaii Five-O||Edward Heron||CBS-TV, Episode: "Two Doves and Mr. Heron"|
|Mannix||Eric Latimer||CBS-TV, Episode: "Days Beyond Recall"|
|The F.B.I.||Porter Bent||Episode: "The Stalking Horse"|
|Sarge||Lt. Ross Edmonds||TV, Episode: "A Push Over the Edge"|
|1972||McCloud||Richard||NBC-TV, Episode: "A Little Plot at Tranquil Valley"|
|Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law||Andy Capaso||ABC-TV, Episode: "Eight Cents Worth of Protection"|
|The Glass House||Hugo Slocum||TV movie|
|Mission: Impossible||Joseph Collins||CBS-TV, Episode: "Five Days in the Death of Sgt. Brown"|
|1973||Love Story||Dave Walters||NBC-TV, Episode: "The Cardboard House"|
|The F.B.I.||John Omar Stahl||Episode: "Desperate Journey"|
|The Streets of San Francisco||Vic Tolliman||ABC-TV, Episode: "The Twenty-Four Karat Plague"|
|1973–1974||Police Story||Sergeant Joe LaFrieda||NBC-TV, 3 episodes|
|The Evil Touch||Purvis Greene||TV, 2 episodes|
|1974||Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry||Captain Franklin|
|The California Kid||Roy Childress||TV movie|
|Funeral for an Assassin||Michael Cardiff|
|1975||Wanted: Babysitter||Vic, the kidnapper|
|The Night That Panicked America||Hank Muldoon||TV movie|
|1976||Captains and the Kings||Tom Hennessey||3 episodes|
|The Bad News Bears||Coach Roy Turner|
|Treasure of Matecumbe||Spangler||Disney movie|
|1977||Roots||Ames||ABC-TV miniseries, 2 episodes|
|Hunter||CBS-TV, 2 episodes|
|The Hostage Heart||Steve Rockewicz||TV movie|
|1978||Wild and Wooly||Warden Willis||TV movie|
|Message from Space (Ucyuu karano messeiji)||General Garuda||Japanese (Toei) movie|
|1978–1980||Charlie's Angels||Lt. Harry Stearns||ABC-TV, "Angel In Hiding" 2 episodes, fifth-season premiere|
|1979||Greatest Heroes of the Bible||Arioch||TV, Episode: "Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar"|
|The Evictors||Jake Rudd|
|The Seekers||Leland Pell||TV movie|
|1980||Humanoids from the Deep||Hank Slattery||Alternative titles: Humanoids of the Deep, Monster|
|B.A.D. Cats||Captain Eugene Nathan||TV, 9 episodes|
|1981||The Last Shark||Ron Hamer||Alternative titles: Great White|
|Magnum, P.I.||Police Sergeant Jordan||CBS-TV, Episode: "Wave Goodbye"|
|1982||Fantasy Island||Douglas Picard||ABC-TV, Episode: "The Challenge/A Genie Named Joe"|
|1990: The Bronx Warriors||Hammer||Penultimate movie|
|Abenko gongsu gundan||South Korean war movie. Directed by Im Kwon-taek|
|1983||Twilight Zone: The Movie||Bill Connor||Died in an on-set accident during filming|
(final film role)
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead)||Combat!||Nominated|
- "Victor Morozoff in the 1940 Census".
- "TV actor Vic Morrow killed". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. July 23, 1982. p. 1A.
- "Actor, two children die during filming". Lodi News-Sentinel, California. UPI. July 24, 1982. p. 1.
- "About Vic Morrow". Jodavidsmeyer. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
- Donnelley, Paul (2003). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus. p. 504. ISBN 0-7119-9512-5.
- Schallert, E.date=November 17, 1954. "Moss hart to write duchin story; video man plans features". Los Angeles Times.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- MacMINN, A. (January 13, 1963). "Camera angles". Los Angeles Times.
- Humphrey, Hal (September 20, 1964). "Combat' Star Finds It's Hard to Sleep on the Set". Los Angeles Times. p. B22.
- Santoro, Gene (March–April 2011). "Infantrymen on the Small Screen". World War II. Leesburg, Virginia: Weider History Group. 25 (6): 69. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
- Jason, Rick (July 2000). "Scrapbooks of My Mind: A Hollywood Autobiography". www.scrapbooksofmymind.com. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
- DRAMA BY GENET WILL BE FILMED. (November 27, 1962). New York Times
- Martin, B. (October 25, 1969). "Carleigh productions buys two properties". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 156298595.
- Wallace, David. "For Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fast Times Are Slowed by Personal Tragedy". People. October 18, 1982. Vol. 18, No. 16.
- "NTSB Accident Report" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. Washington, D.C. July 23, 1982. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- Farber, Stephen; Green, Marc (1988). Outrageous Conduct: Art, Ego and the Twilight Zone Case. Arbor House/Morrow. p. 394. ISBN 9780877959489. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
- Noe, Denise. "The Twilight Zone Tragedy: Funerals and Blame". Crime Library. TruTV. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013.