Wayne Morris

Wayne Morris
Wayne Morris (1948).jpg
Morris in 1948
Bert DeWayne Morris

(1914-02-17)February 17, 1914
Died September 14, 1959(1959-09-14) (aged 45)
Aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard, U.S.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Occupation Actor
Years active 1936–1959
(m. 1939; div. 1940) ​

Patricia Ann O'Rourke
(m. 1942; died 1959) ​

Wayne Morris (born Bert DeWayne Morris, or Bert De Wayne Morris; [1] February 17, 1914 – September 14, 1959) was an American film and television actor, as well as a decorated World War II fighter ace. He appeared in many films, including Paths of Glory (1957), The Bushwackers (1952), and the title role of Kid Galahad (1937).

Early life and career

Morris was born in Los Angeles. (Another source says that he was born in Pasadena, California.)[2] He attended Los Angeles City College and was a fullback on that school's varsity football team. He gained acting experience through his work at the Pasadena Playhouse.[2]

Morris's film debut came in China Clipper (1936).[3]

Morris played the title character of Kid Galahad (1937), a story of a young prizefighter that featured some of Hollywood's biggest stars, Bette Davis, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart. His career flourished in films like Brother Rat, which starred Ronald Reagan, and in Bogart's only horror film, The Return of Doctor X (1939).

Military service

While filming Flight Angels (1940), Morris became interested in flying and became a pilot. With war in the wind, he joined the Naval Reserve and became a Navy flier in 1942, leaving his film career behind for the duration of the war. He flew the F6F Hellcat off the aircraft carrier USS Essex.

A December 15, 1944, Associated Press news story reported that Morris was "credited with 57 aerial sorties, shooting down seven Japanese Zeros, sinking an escort vessel and a flak gunboat and helping sink a submarine and damage a heavy cruiser and a mine layer."[4] He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals.

Morris was considered by the Navy as physically 'too big' to fly fighters. After being turned down several times as a fighter pilot, he went to his uncle-in-law, Cdr. David McCampbell, imploring him for the chance to fly fighters. Cdr. McCampbell said "Give me a letter." He flew with the VF-15 (Fighter Squadron 15), the famed "McCampbell Heroes."

Later career

After the war, Morris returned to films, but his nearly four-year absence had cost him his burgeoning stardom. He continued to act in movies, but the pictures, for the most part, sank in quality. Losing his boyish looks but not demeanor, Morris spent most of the fifties in low-budget westerns, but he also appeared as the cowardly Lieutenant Roget, one of the main characters, in Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957).

In 1957, Morris made his Broadway debut as a washed-up boxing champ in William Saroyan's The Cave Dwellers.

On television, Morris starred in a 1956 episode of Science Fiction Theater, "Beam of Fire." In 1958, Morris appeared in Gunsmoke as "Ned," a groom almost shot to death. Wayne Morris played "Captain Hathaway" in a 1959 airing of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, in the episode "The Sea Captain".

Personal life

Morris was first married to tobacco heiress Leonora (Bubbles) Schinasi; the couple later divorced. Eighteen months later, Morris married the 19-year-old Patricia Ann O'Rourke at the Long Beach, California Naval Air Base February 25, 1942.[5] O'Rourke was the sister of B-movie actress Peggy Stewart.

He had two daughters and a son.[2]


Aged 45, Morris died of a coronary occlusion September 14, 1959, aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard.[2]



  1. ^ Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 119.
  2. ^ a b c d "Wayne Morris Succumbs at 45; Born in Pasadena". Pasadena Independent. California, Pasadena. September 15, 1959. p. 1. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  3. ^ "Jobs Upon A Time". The Morning Herald. Maryland, Hagerstown. April 9, 1948. p. 20. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  4. ^ "Wayne Morris Home After 57 Sorties". The Pantagraph. Illinois, Bloomington. Associated Press. December 15, 1944. p. 1. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  5. ^ "Wayne Morris Weds Patricia O'Rourke". The Monroe News-Star. The Monroe News-Star. Associated Press. February 26, 1942. p. 7. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com. open access

Further reading

  • Hoyt, Edwin P. McCampbell's Heroes: the Story of the U.S. Navy's Most Celebrated Carrier Fighter of the Pacific. ISBN 0442262892 OCLC 8826820
  • Wise, James. Stars in Blue: Movie Actors in America's Sea Services. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997. ISBN 1557509379 OCLC 36824724

External links