Barry Morse, 1918 - 2008

Barry Morse, 1918 - 2008

Barry Morse, 1918 - 2008

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Feb. 5 2008 9:01 PM

Barry Morse, 1918 - 2008

I am very sad to write that Barry Morse, a British/Canadian actor, has died.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

He had a million roles in his long career, but readers of this blog no doubt remember him best as Professor Victor Bergman from "Space: 1999". He was the resident scientist of Moonbase Alpha in the show, and brought a wonderful warmth and humanity to the show.

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This hits me for two reasons. One was that his character of the scientist was a huge role model for me when I was a young teenager. I was awkward, nerdy, and a major spazz. Bergman was thoughtful, generous, intelligent, and well-liked by the other characters. He was a major hero of mine.

And, in 2000, I met him, when I attended a Space:1999 convention in NYC as the guest scientist. I was thrilled to go, of course, since I was major fanboy. I got to sit on stage at the opening panel with the stars of the show!


That's Barry on my right. At one point, I got to talk about how the show influenced me. Sitting next to Barry made me a little nervous, but I decided to tell him personally what a role model Bergman was for me. Especially since his character, when faced with something he didn't understand, was never afraid to say "I don't know". He was a true scientist!

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I didn't get much of a chance to talk with him, but as I rode down the escalator at one point he was going up the other side, and said "Oh, Phil, good! I want to talk to you later about something!" I'll be honest: I have no clue what he wanted to say, as we didn't get together after that. But just having him recognize me and call me by name made me feel like a teenager all over again. It made me want to do better science.

Goofy? Maybe. But that's the way I felt, and I still recognize the ability of actors to play characters who can inspire us.

I know there are other scientists out there who were urged along in their studies by Victor Bergman. And so, to the man behind the Professor: Mr. Morse, I salute you. And I thank you.