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Jack Sherman Morrison

Professor of Theater Arts, Emeritus

Los Angeles



Born in Santa Barbara on December 17, 1912, Jack Sherman Morrison was from the very start of his life a participant in the performing arts. His mother, Anna Marie, was an actress in early motion pictures; his father, Charles Pacific, was "Horse Activities Supervisor" for the Hal Roach studios in Santa Barbara; and at the age of one year Jack made his acting debut as the Sick Child in the film Damaged Goods for the American Film Company in 1913. With the family's move to Los Angeles, Jack was graduated from Hollywood High School and it was in Hollywood that his early career in the entertainment industry included a number of supernumerary roles in Hal Roach productions. He, in fact, maintained his membership in the Screen Actors Guild from 1936 to 1962, well into his career as an educator in the Department of Theater Arts at UCLA.


In his years as an undergraduate at the young campus in Westwood, where his destiny was eventually to be a faculty member in the newly formed Department of Theater Arts, Jack acquired a degree in psychology in 1933. But true to his childhood roots, he was very active in the University Dramatic Society, which, under the aegis of ASUCLA, sponsored numerous theater productions in Royce Hall, including the annual Greek drama directed by the legendary Evalyn Thomas. Upon graduation with his BA in psychology, Jack took off for several months of travel in Europe, which included some study at the University of Vienna. Returning to UCLA for graduate study, Jack assumed the position of graduate manager of dramatics, an administrative position with the Associated Students, to continue the programs of student productions.


In August of 1938 he was married to Martha Louise Godfrey to whom was born a daughter, Patience (now deceased) and a son, Charles. With the advent of World War II, Jack, despite marital and health exemptions from military service, joined the American Red Cross and served as services director in North Africa and Italy. Upon returning to UCLA he resumed his duties as graduate manager of dramatics, but by now there were academic stirrings: some courses in theater were being taught by a small drama faculty, Ralph Freud and Walden Boyle, under the auspices of the English Department. In the Art Department, courses in scenic and costume design were offered by John H. Jones. Jack Morrison's teaching career began as an assistant in public speaking in 1945, then as an assistant in theater in 1947-48, the first year of the new Department of Theater Arts in the College of Applied Arts. Then, appointed as a lecturer, Jack assumed the academic duties in his life long specialty, Theater Management, offering courses in both the lower and upper division. His teaching assignments also included classes in acting and occasional stints as a director, most notably for the premiere of Albert Camus' The Just presented in Theater 170 in 1960. Earlier in his career at UCLA he had appeared in the cast of the Pilgrimage Play in Hollywood. Through these early teaching years at UCLA Jack had acquired an M.A. in education in 1951 and an Ed.D. in 1962 at the University of Southern California. Becoming professionally active in the membership of the American Educational Theatre Association, Jack took a leadership role in founding the Southern California District of AETA, which eventually became the current Southern California Educational Theatre Association and also led to the statewide Association.


In 1951 Jack's marriage to Martha had ended in divorce. Two years later, in 1953, he married Jeanne Carolyn Cagney who bore him two daughters, Mary Ann and Theresa. The marriage ended in divorce in 1973. Jeanne died in 1986.


After 34 years of theater activity at UCLA, as student manager/administrator, as faculty involved in over 150 productions, as management expert, occasionally as theater director or supervisor, Jack left UCLA in 1965 to accept a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant to seek new Latin American plays and playwrights in Mexico City. Following that year he was appointed dean of the College of Fine Arts at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio where he oversaw the Schools of Architecture, Music, Theatre, Fine Arts and the new School of Dance.


In 1970 he resigned as dean to join the staff of the J. D. Rockerfeller III Fund in New York City as associate director of arts in the Education Program. After several years with the J. D. Rockerfeller III Fund, Jack moved to Washington D.C. to assume the position of executive director of the American Theatre Association and managing editor of its Theatre Journal.


Jack's recognition in education circles was acknowledged by his listings in Who's Who in American Theatre (1969), Who's Who in America (1969), The Dictionary of International Biography (1972), through service on the Advisory Committee on Arts in Education, NCA (1968-76); Board of Directors, American National Theatre and Academy (1968); Jack Morrison Playwriting Fellowship, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (1986); Board of Governors, Playwrights Theatre, Educational Research Association; and Fellow of the American Theater Association. In addition, he was honored by receiving the UCLA Alumni Association Award for Professional Achievement (1979). Apart from numerous articles in theater journals, his two major publications were The Rise of the Arts on the American Campus, 1973, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, and The Maturing of the Arts on the American Campus: A Commentary, 1985, University Press of America, Inc., Lanham, Maryland.


In 1982 he retired from the American Theatre Association and returned to UCLA where he served for several years as a consultant on the staff of Dean Robert Gray in the College of Fine Arts. Stricken with Parkinson's disease, Jack was forced to leave his service to UCLA and retire to Malibu, subsequently moving to a hospital facility in Santa Barbara. He died on February 20, 1997 in the city of his birth. He is survived by his son, Charles of Sacramento, two daughters, Mary Ann and Theresa, and two grandchildren, Katie and Eddie.


Henry Goodman

John Jones

Donald Crabs