Broadway, movie and TV star Robert Morse was honored Monday at the Palm Beach International Film Festival for a career that has spanned nearly six decades in show business.
Morse received the festival's "Lifetime Achievement Award" at a red carpeted screening at the Cinemark Paradise movie complex in Boca Raton. Filmmaker Rick McKay accompanied Morse, who is among the many legendary stars who appear in his forthcoming documentary "Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age."
"So many of you put so much into this, it just warms my heart," said Morse, hoisting up the award. "I honestly feel so grateful to all of you. I will prize this. Thank you, thank you, thank you," he added. Although his thick hair is now silver, Morse appeared as winsome as he did 51 years ago, when he won a Tony Award for his leading role in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," the Pulitzer Prize-winning smash Broadway hit.
Morse added that he was honored to appear in McKay's forthcoming documentary. "Rick McKay is someone I respect very much. He loves the people in the movies. He's interviewed my fellow actors and actresses and he's gotten the goods on them, so to speak. He got them to tell their stories and he put them on film, which is the most important thing," said Morse.
McKay said he invited Morse to the film festival to pay homage to the actor's long and illustrious career. "I'm very lucky to have Robert Morse with me, very fortunate. No one makes the link that he played a young window washer at a Madison Avenue advertising company in "How to Succeed" and how here he is, playing the head of the most prestigious advertising company in New York City. That is because his career is so long that people forget that, but attention must be paid," said McKay.
He was referring to Morse's role as J. Pierrepont Finch, who rises from a window washer to vice president of advertising and finally to chairman of the board of the World Wide Wicket Co. in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and is now playing the role of Bertram Cooper, founder and partner in Sterling Cooper, the head of the ad firm portrayed in "Mad Men."
The documentary is the second film in a trilogy for McKay, who is documenting the history of Broadway using interviews with legendary stars along with lost footage. The film is still being edited, but McKay agreed to bring it to the festival for a "sneak peek" because he had premiered "Broadway: The Golden Age," his first Broadway documentary at the film festival a decade ago.
Before the screening, Morse warned the packed house that he couldn't stay long at the festival because he had to leave before dawn the next day to fly back to Los Angeles to film "Mad Men," which starts its seventh season on Sunday. But at the post-screening party, he graciously answered questions, signed autographs and posed for photos with his ardent fans, who obviously treasured their memories of his Broadway days.
More info: Palm Beach International Film Festival