Howard Morris was already a comedy star with “The Andy Griffith Show” on his list. He also found himself appearing on “The Lucy Show.”
Morris, who died on May 21, 2005, at 85 years old, talked about playing opposite Lucille Ball on her follow-up sitcom to “I Love Lucy.” He was interviewed a few years before his death by the Archive of American Television.
“That was wonderful,” Morris said. “It was wonderful. She [Ball] was a doll and a talented, funny lady.” When asked if he remembered anything about that episode, Morris said he didn’t “except that we ended up dancing together.”
“An odd, kind-of Polynesian dance,” he said. “And I remember she said something and somebody came up to her and said, ‘Boy I wish I’d said that.’ She said, ‘You will.'”
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Said Ball Was ‘Fully Involved’ With Show
Morris, who played Ernest T. Bass on “The Andy Griffith Show,” also was asked how involved Ball was in the production of “The Lucy Show.”
“Fully involved,” he said. “She cast it, helped write it, stuff like that.” That sounds like Ball, who was running Desilu Studios at the time of that show’s production.
By the time Morris appeared on “The Lucy Show,” he was quite busy as a voiceover talent for Hanna-Barbera Productions. Among the shows he provided voices for included “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” “The Magilla Gorilla Show,” “The Atom Ant Show,” and “The Secret Squirrel Show.”
Morris Took Ernest T. Bass Character In Different Directions
“The Andy Griffith Show” allowed Morris to take Ernest T. Bass, the lovelorn mountain man, in different directions. He tried to woo Charlene Darling with his voice and charm but failed. Then Bass tried to charm a woman named Ramona by getting “an education.” Well, none of those tricks actually worked. Bass also caused Sheriff Andy Taylor, played by Griffith, and Deputy Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts, trouble when he would throw rocks into the Mayberry courthouse’s window.
Besides Bass, Morris’ other appearances either on-camera or off-camera included as a radio announcer, Leonard Blush, and George, the TV repairman.
Morris also directed eight episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show,” so he was quite an active participant in the show’s success. That’s despite not being a leading actor in the show.
In the same interview, Morris talked about directing the show’s stars. That includes Griffith, Knotts, Ron Howard, Jim Nabors, and others.
“Fine, they were lovely actors,” Morris said. “I didn’t have to teach anybody how to act. They were all there, totally efficient and proficient. And sufficient.”
The actor-comedian-director spent earlier years working closely with Sid Caesar on “Your Show of Shows.” Morris also found himself surrounded by other talented comics and writers like Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. Those experiences probably helped him later on in his career.