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Adrian Morris (actor)

Adrian Morris
Adrian Morris2.jpg
Morris in Gone With the Wind (1939)
Adrian Michael Morris

(1907-01-12)January 12, 1907
DiedNovember 30, 1941(1941-11-30) (aged 34)
Other namesMichael Morris
Years active1931–1941
SpouseEva Virginia Shipley
RelativesChester Morris (brother)

Adrian Michael Morris (January 12, 1907 – November 30, 1941) was an American actor of stage and film, and a younger brother of Chester Morris.

As a child, Morris performed with his family in a vaudeville act. In his short 10-year career as a Hollywood character actor, he appeared in over 70 films, including Dirigible (1931), Me and My Gal (1932), Bureau of Missing Persons (1933), The Big Shakedown (1934), The Fighting Marines (1935), The Petrified Forest (1936), There Goes the Groom (1937), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), Gone With the Wind (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and Blood and Sand (1941).

Early life and family

Adrian Morris was born in Mount Vernon, New York, one of four surviving children of Broadway stage actor William Morris and stage comedic actress Etta Hawkins. His siblings were screenwriter-actor Gordon Morris (1898–1940),[1] actor Chester Morris (1901–1970), and actress Wilhelmina Morris (1902–1971).[2]: 7, 263  Another brother, Lloyd Morris (1892–1902), had died young.[2]: 7 

As a six-year-old, Morris served as assistant to Chester who, by the time he was twelve, had developed an interest in performing magic tricks which often went wrong, to everyone's amusement.[2]: 9  Both brothers also attended the same dancing school.[2]: 10  In 1923, the whole Morris family teamed up to perform William Morris' original sketch called All the Horrors of Home, which premiered at the Palace Theatre, New York, then on the Keith-Orpheum vaudeville circuit for two years, including Proctor's Theatre, Mount Vernon, New York, and culminating in Los Angeles in 1925.[2]: 12, 304 [3]: 150 

In 1929, Morris wrote—under the pseudonym of "Adrian O'Hara"—a column in the December copy of Talking Picture Magazine entitled "I Know Chester Morris", in which he praised his elder brother as a talented man excelling in music, painting and acting. Their brotherly friendship lasted for their entire lives.[2]: 10 [4]

All the success in this world couldn't possibly take away that terrific amount of truth, soul and sincerity on that boys make-up. It's firmly imbedded. I speak from practical experience, not interviews. I love the kid to death, and why not... I'm his little brother.

—Adrian O'Hara, "I Know Chester Morris".[4]


Adrian Morris moved to Hollywood in 1929.[3]: 150  In 1931, he made his first, uncredited appearance in Frank Capra's aviation epic Dirigible by Columbia,[2]: 39  and had a supporting role in Howard Hughes' The Age for Love, directed by Frank Lloyd.[2]: 47  Two more uncredited roles at Columbia followed the same year: the Officer in Arizona starring John Wayne, and Snooper the Henchman in The Pagan Lady starring Evelyn Brent, before other companies began to award him more visible parts with screen billing.[2]: 52  After The Age for Love (1931), released by United Artists, he was cast as Allen by Raoul Walsh for Fox's romantic comedy-drama Me and My Gal (1932), with Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett.[2]: 52 

On February 26, 1932, Morris married stage actress Eva Virginia Shipley in Berverly Hills,[2]: 52  and continued working regularly, playing uncredited or supporting parts in major films released in 1933, such as Warner Bros.' The Little Giant, with Edward G. Robinson; The Mayor of Hell with James Cagney; Bureau of Missing Persons, with Bette Davis, Pat O'Brien and Glenda Farrell; and the powerful Depression drama Wild Boys of the Road, with Frankie Darro.[2]: 70  The same year, he also played the uncredited role of a crap shooter in Universal's King for a Night, directed by Kurt Neumann, and starring his brother Chester in the lead role.[2]: 70 

From 1934 until the end of 1939, Morris appeared in a total of 45 major studio features, many of them top commercial and artistic successes made by the industry's greatest directors.[2]: 93  At Warner Bros., he supported James Cagney and Ann Dvorak in G Men (1935); Paul Muni and Ann Dvorak again in Dr. Socrates (1935); Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, and Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest (1936); and James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938).[2]: 93–94  Morris was also a sidekick for Grant Withers in two serials: The Fighting Marines (1935) for Mascot Pictures and Radio Patrol (1937) for Universal Pictures.[3]: 150 

Paramount Pictures cast him with W. C. Fields and Rochelle Hudson in Poppy (1936); Mae West, Edmund Lowe and Louis Armstrong in Every Day's a Holiday (1937); Sylvia Sidney and George Raft in You and Me (1938); Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone in If I Were King (1938); and Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea in Union Pacific (1939).[2]: 94  At MGM, he appeared as support to Wallace Beery and Robert Young in West Point of the Air (1935); Paul Lukas and Madge Evans in Age of Indiscretion (1935); Robert Young and Madge Evans in Calm Yourself (1935); and Walter Pidgeon and Rita Johnson in 6,000 Enemies (1939).[2]: 94 

RKO Radio cast him with Harry Carey and Hoot Gibson in Powdersmoke Range (1935), Paul Muni and Miriam Hopkins in The Woman I Love, and Ann Sothern and Burgess Meredith in There Goes the Groom (1937).[2]: 94  At 20th Century Fox, he played a policeman in Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938), an entry in the Japanese detective series with a cast including Peter Lorre, Keye Luke and Lynn Bari. In 1939, he also appeared with Warner Baxter and Lynn Bari in The Return of the Cisco Kid; with Tyrone Power, Alice Faye and Al Jolson in Rose of Washington Square; and with Cesar Romero and Marjorie Weaver in The Cisco Kid and the Lady, all for 20th Century Fox.[2]: 94 

In many of these films, he performed as a character actor,[3]: 150  often uncredited or, later in his career, as "Michael Morris".[5] His roles were usually of small-time hoodlum or rough-neck types, cowboys, policemen, and many other characters, such as the carpetbagger in Gone With the Wind (1939) and the hiring agent in The Grapes of Wrath (1940).[3]: 150  For Nat Levine's Mascot Pictures, Morris played more prominent roles: Deputy Abner in the comic mystery One Frightened Night, and Sergeant Mack McGowan in the serial The Fighting Marines, both in 1935. In Wall Street Cowboy for Republic Pictures (1939), he appeared as Big Joe Gillespie opposite B-Western favorites Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and Raymond Hatton.[2]: 94 


He was scheduled to begin playing in Chester's film I'll Be Back in a Flash—released as I Live on Danger (1942)—when he died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage on November 30, 1941,[2]: 160 [3]: 150  in Los Angeles.[1] His final film, Fly-by-Night, was released posthumously on January 19, 1942.[5]

Complete filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1931 Dirigible Crewman Uncredited
1931 Arizona Officer Uncredited
1931 The Pagan Lady Snooper the Henchman Uncredited
1931 The Age for Love Jeff Aldrich
1932 Me and My Gal Detective Al Allen
1933 Trick for Trick Boldy Uncredited
1933 The Little Giant Joe Milano's Hood Uncredited
1933 The Mayor of Hell Car owner Uncredited
1933 Bureau of Missing Persons Irish Conlin
1933 Wild Boys of the Road Buggie Maylin Uncredited
1933 King for a Night Crap Shooter Uncredited
1934 The Big Shakedown Trigger
1934 I Like It That Way Lothario in Chinese Restaurant Uncredited
1934 Let's Be Ritzy Henry Robert
1934 The Pursuit of Happiness Thad Jennings
1935 I'll Love You Always Pigface Uncredited
1935 West Point of the Air Randolph Air Field Instructor Uncredited
1935 G Men Accomplice Uncredited
1935 One Frightened Night Deputy Sheriff
1935 Age of Indiscretion Gus
1935 Stranded Rivet Boss Uncredited
1935 Calm Yourself Dutch - Gangster Uncredited
1935 Front Page Woman Guard Uncredited
1935 Powdersmoke Range Brose Glascow
1935 Dr. Socrates Beanie Uncredited
1935 Three Kids and a Queen Federal Man Uncredited
1935 Metropolitan Electrician Uncredited
1935 The Fighting Marines Sergeant McGowan[6]
1936 The Petrified Forest Ruby
1936 Poppy Constable Bowman
1936 My American Wife Vincent Cantillon
1936 Rose Bowl Doc
1937 Her Husband Lies Carwig
1937 The Woman I Love Marbot
1937 Radio Patrol Officer Sam Maloney
1937 There Goes the Groom Eddie
1937 Every Day's a Holiday Henchman
1938 Mr. Moto's Gamble Policeman Uncredited
1938 You and Me Knucks
1938 If I Were King Colin de Cayeulx
1938 Angels with Dirty Faces Blackie
1939 Boy Slaves State Policeman Uncredited
1939 Tail Spin Repo Man Uncredited
1939 Sergeant Madden Ringleader Scenes deleted
1939 The Return of the Cisco Kid Deputy Johnson
1939 Union Pacific Railwayman Uncredited
1939 Rose of Washington Square Jim
1939 6,000 Enemies "Bull" Snyder
1939 Career Irate Bank Customer Uncredited
1939 They All Come Out Judge in Kangaroo Court Uncredited
1939 Coast Guard First Expressman Uncredited
1939 Wall Street Cowboy Big Joe Gillespie
1939 Chicken Wagon Family Tough Guy Uncredited
1939 $1,000 a Touchdown Two ton Terry Uncredited
1939 Gone With the Wind Carpetbagger Orator Uncredited
1939 The Cisco Kid and the Lady Saloon Brawler Uncredited
1940 The Grapes of Wrath Agent
1940 Know Your Money Joe Uncredited
1940 Castle on the Hudson Prisoner Uncredited
1940 Tear Gas Squad Crusty, The Hit-Man Uncredited
1940 Girl in 313 First Detective
1940 Lucky Cisco Kid Smoketree's Partner Uncredited
1940 The Return of Frank James Denver Detective Uncredited
1940 Pier 13 Al Higgins As Michael Morris
1940 Public Deb No. 1 Guard Uncredited
1940 Christmas in July Tom Darcy, a co-worker As Michael Morris
1940 Florian Cpl. Ernst Uncredited
1940 Michael Shayne, Private Detective Al As Michael Morris
1941 Life with Henry Reporter Uncredited
1941 Sis Hopkins Bodyguard As Michael Morris
1941 Reaching for the Sun Rita's Partner, Dance Hall Uncredited
1941 Blood and Sand La Pulga As Michael Morris
1941 The Big Store Piano-Mover Uncredited
1941 Rags to Riches Bickford As Michael Morris
1941 Wild Geese Calling Stout Guide As Michael Morris
1941 Belle Starr Major Grail's Orderly Uncredited
1941 Marry the Boss's Daughter Subway Guard Uncredited
1942 Fly-by-Night Officer John Prescott Final film role


  1. ^ a b Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory (softcover) (First ed.). Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-7864-0983-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Nollen, Scott Allen; Nollen, Yuyun Yuningsih (2019). Chester Morris : His Life and Career (softcover) (First ed.). Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-7729-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Jones, Ken D.; McClure, Arthur F.; Twomey, Alfred E (1980) [First published 1976]. Character People : The Stalwarts of the Cinema (softcover) (Third softcover printing ed.). Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press. ISBN 978-0-8065-0701-9.
  4. ^ a b O'Hara, Adrian (December 1929). "I Know Chester Morris". Talking Picture Magazine. I (3): 11. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Adrian Morris". American Film Institute - AFI. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  6. ^ Benson, Michael (2000) [First published 1985]. Vintage Science Fiction Films, 1896-1949 (softcover) (New, revised ed.). Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-7864-0936-5.
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Adrian Morris (actor)
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