Many younger fans of AMC’s “Mad Men” (and many younger TMV readers) may not know it, but the highly popular Robert Morse in his role as crusty top-boss Bertram Cooper was an award winning musical comedy star — who won a Tony award in 1962 for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical in 1962 for his role in Tony J. Pierrepont Finch in the Pulitzer Prize-winning How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He played the role again in the 1967 film. He was a highly reliable stage and TV character actor before taking the Mad Men role in 2007. He received other award nominations.
Morse was an incredible stage musical performer, with an expressive face, a likeable hyperactivity, someone who deliver a line and song with pizzazz and pull off a show-stopper with ease
Here are just two of the great numbers from the original version of the musical — from the 1967 movie.
The Company Way: his character, the quintessential (actually by the book) young office politician, talks with an employee who has survived various company regimes. Watch Morse carefully to see how beautifully he delivers each line and gesture:
The Brotherhood of Man: his character is subtly sticking the knife into his co-workers. Note this is a “counterpoint” song, where a second melody emerges, then blends with the first one. This is a GREAT SHOWSTOPPER (my favorite number in the show):
It’s Been a Long Day: Song about gingerly asking a female coworker for a date:
AND THE MOST FAMOUS — the song Morse will long be identified with, “I Believe in You” a song to himself, with uneasy coworkers. It was a huge hit in the 1960s recorded by singers and orchestras. Notice the flexibility in the faces he uses to put over the song. This s a “counterpoint” song where to melodies are eventually combined and become one — a glorious one: