Did you know Ernest T. Bass was born in the Bronx? Howard Morris, the actor who made the mountain man famous was born to a Jewish family in 1919. He, Carl Reiner, and the future Commandant Klink of Hogan’s Heroes, Werner Klemperer, were in the same unit in World War II. It was a company of actors assigned to entertain the troups in the Pacific. Samantha Stevens father on Bewitched, Maurice Evans, was the company commander.
Howard was a classically trained Shakespearean actor, who found fame playing numerous roles on Sid Caesar’s Show Of Shows. Most people today aren’t familiar with the comedy sketch program, but Howard Morris delivered some extremely hilarious performances, viewable on YouTube. As I mentioned, this same man, comfortable with Hamlet and Macbeth, will forever be to us, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s Ernest T.” He picked up his southern accent while stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
In addition to Ernest T, Howard directed episodes of the series, appeared on Broadway, and guest starred on series such as the Dick Van Dyke show. In the early 1960’s, Howard began to do voice work for cartoons. He was the first Mr. Peebles on Magilla Gorilla and the first Adam Ant. You may know him as the Gopher on Winnie the Pooh, Wade the duck on Garfield, or as the voice of the Hamburgler.
He continued to act and direct for most of his life, including reprising Ernest T’s role in Return To Mayberry. While Howard passed away at 85, his image has and will continue to entertain generations. All who love Mayberry will keep laughing at the smile that launched rocks, broke windows, and crossed Kelsey’s ocean.