31 March: A 99th birthday commemoration

Our birthday boy . . . (Photo: NBC.)

Our birthday boy . . . (Photo: NBC.)

It’s probably safe to assume that the only time in our hero’s life in which he didn’t even think about slapping back was tonight’s date 99 years ago. Alas, his birthcry wasn’t exactly “Good evneing, anybody, here’s Morgan.” Not even because he was born Henry Lerner van Ost, Jr. And he’d require at least a quarter century to come before Kate Smith annoyed him enough to hit back at her “Hello, everybody!” (After playing a snippet of her theme song on something resembling a circus calliope.

So let us say happy 99th to Henry Morgan, if only because we might feel that going full-out for his actual centenary would provoke him to spike his own birthday cake, have it inscribed “Push, pull, nick-nick,” and blame it on old man Adler, anyway.




Here’s Morgan: Quoted in the Reader’s Digest (Mutual, 26 November 1941)

The possible earliest known surviving installment of the show that first made Morgan a cult hit in the northeast: Morgan takes several gleeful pokes at his critics—particularly those who’ve been praising him—without getting particularly nasty about it . . . at least, until he comes to a Reader’s Digest item quoting one of his nutzoid weather reports—and crediting a newspaper who quoted it earlier.

Also: the minutes of the last meeting of the Morgan Clan; a reading from classic worst-seller, Innovating Epigrams; and, famous or infamous obscurities. Uh, huh . . .

Writer/director: Henry Morgan.


Here’s Morgan: Washington’s Gettysburg Address (ABC, 21 March 1946)

Our man Morgan reads it in a bid to silence his “wisenheimer” critics. Also: Morgan’s new cold remedy; a listener visits to complain about radio announcers; and assorted miscellaneous absurdities. Which is just what you’d expect from Morgan during his far more freewheeling years.

Writer/director: Henry Morgan.


An Adler shoe store with advertising sigh above; Morgan's early sponsor and cheerful target---whose founder took to enjoying when customers asked for "old man Adler" following Morgan zaps---for a little while, anyway . . .

An Adler shoe store in New York, with advertising sign above. Adler’s  founder enjoyed customers asked for “old man Adler” –for a little while, anyway . . .

The Henry Morgan Show: Great Sayings of Unfamiliar Men (Series Premiere: ABC, 1946)


Our hero examines “Great Sayings of Unimportant Men,” a substitute for the Ink Spots (who were “too worried” to come out tonight), the final inning of a baseball game between two British teams, and the first installment of a recurring Morgan feature, “The Question Man.” Among other manifestations of madness. It will be great fun for long enough and perhaps too little in the big picture, not that it seems to matter to our hero . . .

Cast: Susie Dusso, Charles Irving (also announcer). Music: Bernie Green Orchestra. Director: Charles Powers. Writers: Henry Morgan, Carroll Moore, Jr., Aaron Ruben, Joe Stein.

The Henry Morgan Show: Broadcasting Radio Shows Back to the Russians (ABC, 5 March 1947)

Morgan wonders what the Russians would think if the State Department broadcast to them what Americans really listen to on the radio. Uh-ohhhhhh . . .

Cast: Arnold Stang, Art Carney, Florence Halop, Madeline Lee. Announcer: Charles Irving. Music: Bernie Green Orchestra. Writers: Henry Morgan, Carroll Moore, Jr., Aaron Ruben, Joe Stein.


The Henry Morgan Show: Morgan’s Summer Resort Hotel (ABC, 11 June 1947)

Answering the question of where you can be sent for two weeks worth of sunstroke, the title institution has less to do with a hotel and an awful lot to do with a customer looking to book his wife a one-way cruise. Cast: Arnold Stang, Florence Halop, Madaline Lee, Art Carney. Announcer: Ben Grauer. Music: Bernie Green and His Orchestra. Writers: Henry Morgan, Aaron Ruben, Joseph Stein.


The Henry Morgan Show: New Year’s Eve Show (NBC, 30 December 1949)

Morgan (right) with Arnold Stang, long his foil. (Photo: CBS.)

Morgan (right) with Arnold Stang, long his foil. (Photo: CBS.)

Legendary Washington columnist and broadcaster Drew Pearson steps in for a guest shot, after (Henry) Morgan parodies a typical Pearson predictions broadcast, right down to the Adam’s Hats spots. Also: Morgan cleans out his joke file, Gerard (Arnold Stang) kvetches  about New Year’s shows, and a lady cab driver (Pert Kelton) goes toe to toe with Morgan.

Announcer: Ben Grauer. Music: Milton Tatum Orchestra. Director: Kenneth MacGregor. Writers: Henry Morgan,Joe Stein, Aaron Ruben, Carroll Moore, Jr.


The Henry Morgan Show: J.J. Morgan’s Court of Inhuman Relations Clinic (NBC; Canada Broadcasting Company rebroadcast, 21 March 1950)

The disorder in the court addresses marital problems, more or less. Also: Helpful hints on treating colds as spring arrives; Gerard (Arnold Stang) takes up painting; rising boxer Sailor (Art) Carney as Man of the Week; Morgan’s Movie News covers an ironworker strike negotiation and other tidbits. Morgan’s customary semi-sanity.

Additional cast: Pert Kelton, Ed Herlihy. Announcer: Ed Herlihy. Music: Milton Tatum Orchestra, Norman Cottier, Billy Williams Quartet. Writers: Henry Morgan, Joe Stein, Aaron Ruben, Carroll Moore, Jr.


NBC Monitor: Here’s Morgan—Discussing Playboy Magazine (NBC, 1959)

A few off-the-cuff and under-the-table observations tied to Mr. Hefner’s pulchritudinous publication, including perhaps the one time it’s ever compared to the highbrow Partisan Review. Also: A short, thoughtful look at electoral campaign absurdities, Eisenhower Administration critics, the Twenty-One quiz show scandal, and a blind gossip column item.

Writer: Henry Morgan.

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