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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wayne Morris
Morris in 1948
Bert DeWayne Morris Jr.

(1914-02-17)February 17, 1914
DiedSeptember 14, 1959(1959-09-14) (aged 45)
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery[1]
Years active1936–1959
(m. 1939; div. 1940)
Patricia Ann O'Rourke
(m. 1942)

Wayne Morris (born Bert DeWayne Morris Jr.[2] 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).

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Early life and career

Morris was born in Los Angeles County, California to Bert DeWayne Morris and Anna Lorea Morris (née Fitzgerald). 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.[3]

His film debut came in China Clipper (1936).[4] He 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.

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 the F6F Hellcat off the aircraft carrier USS Essex with the VF-15 (Fighter Squadron 15), the famed "McCampbell Heroes."

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."[5] He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals.

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 much of the 1950s in low-budget westerns, but 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 "Nat", a groom almost shot to death. Wayne Morris played "Captain Hathaway" in 1959 on 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.[6] He had two daughters and a son.[3]


Aged 45, Morris died of a coronary occlusion September 14, 1959, aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard.[3]

Awards and decorations

During his naval service, Morris earned the following decorations:[7]

Naval Aviator Badge
Distinguished Flying Cross
w/ three 516" Gold Stars
Air Medal
w/ one 516" Gold Star
Navy Presidential Unit Citation American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
w/ three 316" Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
w/ Bronze Hourglass Device
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Philippine Liberation Medal
w/ two 316" Bronze Stars



  1. ^ "Burial detail: Morris, Bert D". ANC Explorer. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  2. ^ Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 119.
  3. ^ a b c "Wayne Morris Succumbs at 45; Born in Pasadena". Pasadena Independent. California, Pasadena. September 15, 1959. p. 1. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Open access icon
  4. ^ "Jobs Upon A Time". The Morning Herald. Maryland, Hagerstown. April 9, 1948. p. 20. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Open access icon
  5. ^ "Wayne Morris Home After 57 Sorties". The Pantagraph. Illinois, Bloomington. Associated Press. December 15, 1944. p. 1. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via Open access icon
  6. ^ "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 Open access icon
  7. ^ "Bert  DeWayne  Morris,  Jr". Veteran Tributes. Retrieved September 1, 2022.

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

This page was last edited on 4 May 2024, at 02:07
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