Howard Morris

What do Ernest T. Bass and Mayor McCheese have in common?

They were both played by by actor Howard Morris.

Ernest T. Bass only appeared in five episodes of the Andy Griffith Show as the character. That’s right, only five episodes. He directed more episodes (eight) of the show than he appeared as Bass.

Ernest T. Bass was a hillbilly that came down to reek havoc on Mayberry.  He was usually in search of something, a girl or a uniform, so Andy and Barney tried to minimize his damage and help him out.

Morris was a working entertainer when he met Carl Reiner during World War II and later fell in with Sid Caesar, writing and appearing on Caesar’s popular 1950s television show.  Prior to that he appeared on stage and studied to be a serious actor. He also did voices on the radio, including voicing inanimate objects.  His was noted for his quick wit and ability to improvise. He appeared as dozens of zany characters and developed a skill for voices, which would serve him in hundreds of cartoon voices over the rest of his life. It was a short hop from Caesar to Mayberry, and the to the director’s chair, where he directed for Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show) and Mel Brooks (Get Smart!), and many shows including The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, USMC, Bewitched, etc.

Following Caesar’s show, Morris appeared in dozens of television shows and films, in addition to voicing cartoon characters. Here are some of the shows he voiced, often multiple characters: The Flintstones, Jetsons, Winnie the Pooh, the Archies, Beetle Bailey, Duckman, Garfield, Tom and Jerry, Ducktails, Superman, Popeye, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Atom Ant, Magilla Gorilla, Secret Squirrel, Mister Magoo. On The Flintstones alone, he voiced over 100 characters.

He would pop up in films like Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety (1977) and Ron Howard’s Splash (1984), and of course the television shows, The Love Boat and Murder She Wrote.

Besides acting and voice work, Morris was a busy director of television shows and commercials. Over a six-year period in the 1960s, he directed 46 series episodes and three feature films (Who’s Minding the Mint?, With Six You Get Eggroll, Don’t Drink the Water).

As a commercial director, he had a long relationship with McDonalds, creating many of the classic McDonaldland commercials. He also voiced Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar (after Larry Storch).


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