- Barry Morse, President of the Shaw Society, 1998-2008:A Tribute from the Committee of the Shaw Society (U.K.) on Behalf of All the Members
Among the many tributes that have been made to Barry Morse as a television actor and star, none does full justice to his lifelong devotion to Shaw. Not only was he the hardest-working and most attentive president the Shaw Society ever had, but he was also one of a dwindling number of people who had actually met and worked with Bernard Shaw. Barry loved to tell how, when he was a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Shaw personally showed him how to play the lion in Androcles and the Lion and about the time he visited Shaw at his home in Whitehall Court to enlist his support to improve conditions for students at the academy. During his long career, Barry played leading roles in a great many Shaw productions and could recite whole scenes at the slightest prompt. He played in Candida and Arms and the Man in repertory in Bradford, appeared in Village Wooing in London's Q Theatre, and was John Tanner in a 1957 production of Man and Superman in Boston, which included the Don Juan in Hell sequence. In 1964, Barry played Shaw in the first televised broadcast of Dear Liar. He was also the voice of Shaw in George Bernard Shaw: Who the Devil Was He? and was involved in the making of The Wit and World of G. B. Shaw, a joint CBC/BBC television production. His most recent Shaw role was in 1992, when, for the first time, all four acts of The Philanderer were performed at the Hampstead Theatre in London, to great critical acclaim. In 1966, Barry became the artistic director of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, putting on Man and Superman, Misalliance, and The Apple Cart. That year saw the expansion of the festival, with sell-out crowds and wonderful reviews. In 1976, he returned to Niagara to play the role of Sir George Crofts in Mrs Warren's Profession.
Barry Morse became president of the Shaw Society in 1998 soon after the death of his beloved wife, Sydney, and threw himself into the role with his usual enthusiasm. He rarely missed a meeting, even taking the chair [End Page 270] the Friday evening before he died on 2 February. He always listened intently to the speaker and at the end would produce a summary that would put many members of the audience to shame. He hosted committee meetings, play readings, and Shavian gatherings at his flat in St. James's and was always ready to meet and greet anybody with the slightest Shavian connection. He will be remembered by all with much affection and respect, and his stories and anecdotes will live on in the folklore of the society.
Barbara Smoker, Vice President; Alan Knight, Honorable Secretary; Evelyn Ellis, Honorary Treasurer; Ivan Wise, Editor, The Shavian; and Phillip Riley, Hayward Morse, Malcolm Wroe, Toni Kanal, Ron Abraham, Terry Mullins, and Zach Vanderfelt.
A Note from Barry Morse's Son
My father not only was gifted with a great talent but had the intelligence, energy, and stamina to make the best use of it for most of his long life. He was staggeringly prolific and gained the respect and affection of many admirers. For me, however, his professional accomplishments pale in comparison to the shining example of his magnificent devotion to my mother. They say that the best thing we can leave behind is the memory of love, and it is for that love that I will always remember, treasure, and love him. [End Page 271]