Victor "Vic" Morrow (February 14, 1929 — July 23, 1982) was an American actor, whose credits include a starring role in the 1960s TV series Combat!, prominent roles in a handful of other television and cinema dramas, and numerous guest roles on television. He and two others died when a stunt helicopter crashed on them during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie.
Early life and family
Morrow was born in the Bronx, New York to a middle class Jewish family, the son of Jean (née Kress) and Harry Morrow, an electrical engineer. When he was 17, Morrow dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Navy. He married actress Barbara Turner with whom he had two daughters: actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and Carrie Ann Morrow.
Morrow's first movie role was in Blackboard Jungle (1955), after which he went into television. On April 16, 1959, he appeared in the premiere of NBC's 1920s crime drama The Lawless Years in the episode "The Nick Joseph Story."
Morrow then appeared from 1960–1961 as Joe Cannon in three episodes of NBC's The Outlaws with Barton MacLane. On October 6, 1961, he guest starred in the ABC television series Target: The Corruptors! with Stephen McNally and Robert Harland.
He was cast in the lead role in ABC's Combat!, a World War II drama, which aired from 1962–1967. He also worked as a television director. After Combat! ended, he worked in several films. Morrow appeared in two episodes of Australian-produced anthology series The Evil Touch (1973), one of which he also directed. He memorably played the wily local sheriff in director John Hough's road classic Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, as well as the homicidal sheriff, alongside Martin Sheen, in the 1974 TV film The California Kid, and had a key role in the 1976 comedy The Bad News Bears. He also played Injun Joe in 1973 telefilm Tom Sawyer, which was filmed in Upper Canada Village. A musical version was released in theaters that same year.
Morrow wrote and directed a 1971 Spaghetti Western, produced by Dino DeLaurentis, titled A Man Called Sledge starring James Garner. It was Morrow's first and only big screen outing behind the camera. "Sledge" was filmed in Europe with desert-like settings that were highly evocative of the U.S. southwest.
In the early morning hours of July 23, 1982, Morrow and two children, My-Ca Dinh Le (age 7), and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (age 6), died in an accident while filming on location for the Twilight Zone: The Movie in Ventura County, California. Morrow was playing the role of Bill Connor, a racist who is taken back in time and placed in various situations where he would be a persecuted victim: as a Jewish Holocaust victim, a black man about to be lynched by the Ku Klux Klan, and a Vietnamese man about to be killed by United States soldiers. Morrow, Le, and Chen were filming a scene for the Vietnam sequence in which their characters attempt to escape from a pursuing U.S. Army helicopter out of a deserted Vietnamese village. The helicopter was hovering at about 25 feet above them when pyrotechnic explosions damaged it and caused it to crash on top of them, killing all three instantly.
Morrow is interred in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Director John Landis and other defendants, which included producer Steven Spielberg and pilot Dorsey Wingo, were ultimately acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. The parents of Le and Chen sued and settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Morrow's children also sued and settled for an undisclosed amount.
1.^ "About Vic Morrow". Jodavidsmeyer. http://www.jodavidsmeyer.com/combat/personnel/morrow_BIO.html. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
2.^ Donnelley, Paul (2003). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus. p. 504. ISBN0711995125.
3.^ "Vic Morrow". Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1902. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
4.^ Noe, Denise. "The Twilight Zone Tragedy: Funerals and Blame" www.trutv.com