Robert Morse, who brought his gravitas and a gap-toothed smile to How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Mad Men, has died at 90. Morse’s son confirmed his death with Eyewitness News without further details. His death was mourned by writer, producer, and vice-president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors Larry Karaszewski. “My good pal Bobby Morse has passed away at age 90,” Karaszewski tweeted on the morning of April 21. “A huge talent and a beautiful spirit. Sending love to his son Charlie & daughter Allyn.” Morse is survived by his wife Elizabeth Roberts and his children Andrea Doven, Allyn Morse, Hilary Morse, Robin Morse, and Charles Morse.
Morse launched his acting career as J. Pierrepont Finch, a window washer turned corporate ladder climber in the 1961 musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He won his first Tony Award for the role and raked in a second Tony by transforming into Truman Capote in the 1989 play Tru. Out of the theater world, Morse also starred in cult-favorite black comedy The Loved One.
In 2007, Morse harkened back to the corporate world by playing Don Draper’s mentor, Bert Cooper, in Mad Men. “I said I’d be happy to be Bertram Cooper, chairman of the board, and sit behind a desk,” Morse told the New York Times in 2014. “It looked like the road company of How to Succeed.”
Mad Men sent him off in season seven with a poignant swan song; Cooper died watched the Apollo 11 moon landing. After Draper announces Cooper’s death to the company, he imagines Cooper singing a cheerful rendition of “The Best Things in Life Are Free” before walking into his office and closing the door.