Howard Morris Was Ernest T. Bass

“And if you wonder who I be, it’s me it’s me, it’s Ernest T.!”

Howard Jerome Morris was born September 4, 1919, to a Jewish family in the Bronx, New York, the son of Hugo and Elsie Morris. Morris attended New York University on a dramatic arts scholarship. During World War II he was assigned to a United States Army Special Services unit, the entertainment branch, where he was a First Sergeant. He was based in Honolulu and entertained the troops throughout the pacific.

Maurice Evans (Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes, and Sam’s father Maurice on Bewitched) was the company commander and Carl Reiner(creator, actor, and writer of the Dick Van Dyke Show) and Werner Klemperer (Colonel Klink on Hogan’s Heroes) were soldiers in his unit. From 1950 to 1954 he became a known name by appearing on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows[1]. In 1957 he appeared in two episodes of the short-lived NBC comedy/variety show The Polly Bergen Show.

Howard is best known for playing the over-the-top mountain man, Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show. He had lampooned southern accents while in the army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was only in five episodes but he directed eight more, a fact that I didn’t know.

None of the scripts called for Ernest to jump around like a nut. That was just the result of my innards searching for ways that the character needed to move. I also used poetry to fill in other character gaps which results from an actor’s basic insecurity in terms of the character having a unique depth of personality. I discovered even more personality elements using poetry. This occurred by pure accident. Each silly line came to me on set as the cameras rolled.

Howard Morris

Ernest T. Bass Episodes on The Andy Griffith Show
(from Ernest T. Bass Home Page)
  1. “Mountain Wedding” 1963 (makes his intentions known to Charlene Darling) Episode 94, Season 3
  2. “Ernest T. Bass Joins The Army” 1963 (wants to wear a uniform)
    Episode 98, Season 4
  3. “My Fair Ernest T. Bass” 1964 (Andy attempts to pass Ernest T. off as a sophisticate at a society party) Episode 112, Season 4
  4. “The Education of Ernest T. Bass” 1964 (is tutored by Andy)
    Episode 131, Season 5
  5. “Malcolm At The Crossroads” 1965 (Ernest T. and Malcolm fight over being the crossing guard) Episode 162, Season 6

Howard Morris Directing The Andy Griffith Show
(from Ernest T. Bass Home Page)
  1. “Otis Sues the County”  1964
  2. “Three Wishes for Opie”  1964
  3. “Andy and Helen Have Their Day”  1964
  4. “The Darling Baby”  1964
  5. “Barney’s Bloodhound”  1964
  6. “Aunt Bee’s Romance”  1964
  7. “The Family Visit”  1964
  8. “Barney’s Physical”  1964

Howard either appeared, narrated or voice-acted in movies for about 40 years. His first was “Munro” (1961), which won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film that year. He was in “Boys Night Out” (1962) starring Kim Novak, James Garner, Patti Page, and Tony Randall.

The same year he was in “40 Pounds of Trouble” (1962) with Tony Curtis, Suzanne Pleshette, Larry Storch, and Phil Silvers. Next up was one of my favorites, “The Nutty Professor” (1963) starring Jerry Lewis. He would voice Gopher, for the first time, in “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree”(1966).

His second and third Jerry Lewis movies were “Way…Way Out (1966)”, and “The Big Mouth” (1967). He then was in another of my favorites, “With Six You Get Eggroll” (1968) which I saw in the Lenox Square Mall Theatres with my parents. It starred Doris Day, Brian Keith, Barbara Hershey, George Carlin, and Pat Carroll.

Again, as Gopher, he was in “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” (1968). Next up was the Woody Allen movie “Don’t Drink the Water “(1969) starring Jackie Gleason and Estelle Parsons.

Howard was in Carl Reiner’s “The Comic” (1969) Dick Van Dyke, Michele Lee, Reiner himself, and Mickey Rooney. He provided voices for “Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies” (1972).

He played Professor Lilloman in “High Anxiety” (1977) starring, produced, and directed by Mel Brooks with Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, and Madeline Kahn. His next Mel Brooks movie was “History of the World, Part I”(1981).

He was Dr. Zidell in “Splash” (1984), the Ron Howard film, starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, and Eugene Levy. In 1986 he appeared as Ernest T. Bass in the TV movie “Return to Mayberry”. Sixteen of the original cast members reunited and reprised their roles for the film.

Howard Morris appeared or voice-acted in many TV Episodes from 1963 until 2004. “The Twilight Zone” (1963), “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1961), “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1962), “Thriller” (1962), 28 episodes of “The Flintstones” (1962–1965), 14 episodes of “The Jetsons”(1962–1987), “The Dick Van Dyke Show:” (1963), the voice of Beetle Bailey in “Beetle Bailey”(1963), “Make Room for Daddy”(1964), the voice of Mr. Peedles on “The Magilla Gorilla Show” (1964–1965), “The Lucy Show” (1965),

“The Secret Squirrel Show” (1965), “The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo” (1965), the voice of Atom Ant on “The Atom Ant Show” (1965–1966), the voices of Jughead, Moose, and Dilton on “The Archie Show” (1968–1978), “The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park” (1972),

“My Favorite Martian” (1973), “The Love Boat”(1978), 2 episodes of “Fantasy Island” (1980–1983), 5 episodes of “Trapper John, M.D.” (1982–1984), “Alvin & the Chipmunks” (1983), “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo” (1985), “Galaxy High” (1986), played Jughead on 4 episodes of “Sesame Street” (1986–1993),

Dr. Von Swine on “DuckTales”(1987–1989), 121 episodes of “Garfield and Friends” (1988–1994), Murder, She Wrote (1989), the voice of Ernest T. Golb on “Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man” (1996), “Cow and Chicken” (1997–1999), and “Baywatch” (1996).

He was busy but also found time to direct. Some of his credits were 5 episodes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1963–1965), the pilot episode of “Get Smart” (1965), “The Patty Duke Show” (1965), 3 episodes of “Bewitched” (1965–1966), 14 episodes of “Hogan’s Heroes”(1965-1967), “Laredo” (1966),

Howard Morris Directing The Andy Griffith Show
(from Ernest T. Bass Home Page)
  1. “Otis Sues the County”  1964
  2. “Three Wishes for Opie”  1964
  3. “Andy and Helen Have Their Day”  1964
  4. “The Darling Baby”  1964
  5. “Barney’s Bloodhound”  1964
  6. “Aunt Bee’s Romance”  1964
  7. “The Family Visit”  1964
  8. “Barney’s Physical”  1964

“With Six You Get Eggroll” (1968), “Don’t Drink the Water”(1969), “Laverne & Shirley” (1977), the Donny and Marie Osmond movie “Goin’ Coconuts”(1978), “The Love Boat” (1981), and 2 episodes of “Trapper John, M.D.” (1985–1986).

Howard Morris Voice Directing Credits
  • Police Academy
  • Richie Rich
  • Bionic Six
  • Goin’ Coconuts
  • Pole Position
  • Galaxy High
  • The Snorks
  • The Mighty Orbots
  • Rose Petal Place
  • The Dogfather
  • Dragon’s Lair
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie
  • Turbo Teen
  • Cabbage Patch Kids: First Christmas
  • Little Clowns of Happytown
  • The Little Wizards
  • Space Stars
  • Kidd Video.

In the 1970s, he directed some McDonaldland commercials featuring Ronald, the Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, and friends. Morris also performed the voice of Mayor McCheese throughout the decade. Howard Morris died May 21, 2005, at the age of 85. He had been married five times and has four children. The cause of his death was congestive heart failure. He was buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

  1. Your Show of Shows is a live 90-minute variety show that was broadcast weekly in the United States on NBC from February 25, 1950, through June 5, 1954, featuring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Other featured performers were Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Bill Hayes, baritone singer Jack Russell, Judy Johnson, The Hamilton Trio, and the soprano Marguerite Piazza. José Ferrer made several guest appearances on the series. [Back]


Ernest T. Bass

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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