That’s precisely what they called actor Barry Morse shortly after his debut in what remains today his signature television role as Lieutenant Philip Gerard, the pursuer of accused (and now escaped) murderer Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen, pictured above with Morse and “one-armed man” Bill Raisch) in the classic series The Fugitive. For four seasons between 1963 and 1967, Lt. Gerard doggedly hounded after Kimble in what was for many the longest chase sequence in television history. We, the television audience, knew the good doctor was innocent—and in re-watching the reruns, I suspect that maybe Gerard did, too—but he hunted Kimble all the same…and usually explained his obsession with Kimble’s capture as “just doing his job.” A dedicated civil servant…who must have had one hell of an expense account.
As a kid, I remembered Morse more as Professor Victor Bergman in the first season of the syndicated science-fiction adventure Space: 1999—I wouldn’t become acquainted with Morse’s turn as a modern day Javert until The Fugitive got a workout on A&E in the 1990s. Morse, born in London on this date back in 1918, was a far better actor than his brief stint on Space would suggest; a journalist once estimated that Barry had played nearly 3000 different roles on stage, screen and radio during his lengthy career and had it not been for his untimely death in February 2008, he’d be celebrating his 92nd natal anniversary today. Thrilling Days of Yesteryear will celebrate it in his absence, nevertheless. Say it with me now: “Kimble!”