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Morgan Paull, Cult-Favorite ‘Blade Runner’ Actor, Dies at 67

 

I missed this last week, for which I apologize. When a great character actor dies it is a loss that should be recognized by those of us in Theatre, film and other areas of entertainment.

On July 17th, Morgan Paull died of stomach cancer in Ashland, Oregon.

From his website:

Even by Hollywood standards, the breadth of Morgan Paull’s career is striking.

In a span of four decades, he’s starred in scores of movies, TV shows and plays; owned and run a talent agency for actors and writers; appeared in numerous commercials; been a leader in major industry organizations; and had good enough pipes to convince Old Blue Eyes to re-record his demo into another Sinatra chart-topper.

Morgan started early, and started fast, jumping right from Culver Academy to the famed Barter Theatre of Virginia. True to its reputation, Barter burnished his skills and nourished his desires. As his talent ripened, it became clear that Morgan was ready for the bigger challenges of the Big Apple, challenges he met and mastered in countless productions with New Dramatists and the Cherry Lane Theater. What had begun as a dream had become destiny.

 

Morgan Paull on TV’s Ironside with Pat Hingle and Raymond Burr, 1971

As surely as Barter groomed Morgan for New York, New York prepared him for Hollywood. After the obligatory struggle, he rocketed from obscurity to a coveted role in the blockbuster “Patton.” His film resume includes both critical and commercial successes, including the acclaimed “Norma Rae,” the futuristic cult classic “Blade Runner,” and “Cahill, U.S. Marshall,” which paired him with childhood hero John Wayne.

While making enduring movies, he made enduring friendships – not only with some of screen’s biggest stars, but talented directors and powerful producers who taught Morgan how to make things happen on the other side of the camera, knowledge that would prepare him for the next leg of his career – representation.

By now a savvy and connected insider, Morgan was a natural as an agent and manager. A shrewd investor in both human and financial capital, he was a tough and able negotiator for the people and projects he took on. In a way, he was born to the role, being a direct descendant of 18th century naval hero John Paul Jones (“I have not yet begun to fight.”).

 

Marshal Dillon rides off into the sunset…

James Arness, Gunsmoke‘s Matt Dillon, has died at age 88. Arness (family name Aurness which he never legally changed) and his actor older brother, Peter Graves (who died in March 2010), came to Hollywood after WWII where James ended up in the performing group that surrounded John Wayne. Wayne became Arness’ mentor and when the Matt Dillon part came up he convinced him to take it. He kept the role for 19 years … plus came back a decade later to do a few made for television Gunsmoke movies.

Arness was also a private pilot whose exploits buzzing the Gunsmoke set were legendary.

His was a great career, the major part being one of the greatest characters in the best days of Television dramas.