Robert Morse, who brought a playful, eccentric sensibility to AMC’s “Mad Men” as the namesake head honcho of fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper, has died. He was 90.
Morse was a two-time Tony Award winner, beginning with best actor in a comedy for the 1961 production of “How to Succeed at Business Without Really Trying.” He won again in 1990 for playing Truman Capote in the play “Tru,” this time for best actor featured in a play, making him one of only four actors to win both honors.
He also won an Emmy for a live TV performance of “Tru” a few years later.
But it was his turn as Bert Cooper, head of ad agency Sterling Cooper on AMC’s “Mad Men,” that modern audiences will remember best.
Morse played Cooper as a benevolent, eccentric leader who loved exotic artwork and going barefoot, insisting on both a tight ship and a light mood. Bert Cooper was often a foil for the gravely serious Don Draper (Jon Hamm), plying the granite-jawed ad man with philosophy and humor during their spirited pep talks.
Morse’s death was confirmed by writer/producer Larry Karaszewski, who sits on the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and worked with the actor on many projects, including when Morse played journalist Dominick Dunne in “The People vs. OJ Simpson.”
“My good pal Bobby Morse has passed away at age 90,” Karaszewski tweeted Thursday. “A huge talent and a beautiful spirit. Sending love to his son Charlie & daughter Allyn. Had so much fun hanging with Bobby over the years – filming “People v OJ” & hosting so many screenings (“How To Succeed,” “Loved One,” “That’s Life).”
More was nominated for five Emmy Awards for playing Bert Cooper on “Mad Men,” which won a Screen Actor’s Guild ensemble award during his tenure.
In his final episode, Morse called upon his Broadway skills for a razzle-dazzle fantasy musical number after his Bert Cooper’s peaceful death, which happens during a broadcast of the moon landing:
Morse was married twice and had five children.