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Nine Years Ago

It was nine years ago today (at about this exact moment) that my incredible father, Howard Morris, passed away.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Nine years seems like a long time. I suppose it is. When time is attached to such a special person, the pain of loss hits a level where it seems to more or less stabilize as one big emotional chunk. I now know what I will carry for the rest of my life.

He was like my brother. Everything that goes with that type of relationship was there. I don’t want to bore you with the details because I’ve written a lot about our relationship in posts over the years. But what I will say is that I woke up today recalling what I think were some fascinating situations he and I shared, and ultimately conquered. Our relationship was good, no, actually, it was GREAT! Why? Many reasons. One being that we could and would say practically anything to each other. We trusted that neither of us was going to run off crying in a corner, burning about it for days, weeks. We did have times like that, but 9 times out of 10 it was something revolving around a crazy, friend, ex-wife or girlfriend. Each of us had bad relationships at one time or another, not all that unique. Point being that our issues didn’t last long because we had mastered a process of conquering the junk in our lives, and moving on.

My father would sometimes go to therapists. Sometimes I would join. I would say the vast majority of therapists tried, but were out of their league. They didn’t really understand my father. He was not textbook. Among other things they never truly considered the performer elements in him. He was always on stage. Most folks in show business have this issue. Some stronger than others. I understood it well, so I knew how to ride those waves. This dynamic was a common thread. Those who knew him got the message quickly that Howard was a powerful, but honest man who, ultimately, tried for attention, but just wanted to be loved. Ernest T. Bass, for lack of a better way of saying it, is what Howard Morris was all about. This is why we started this site, as opposed to a “Howard Morris” site. My father truly lives within ETB.

But getting back to time. Nine years. I suppose it does help in terms of healing, but not really. The waves of a huge loss remain fully in tact. At times I catch myself looking directly into the massive space that my father once occupied. Why? Because he was AMAZING.

I’ll always love you, dad 🙂


P.S. Thank you kindly to everyone for your thoughtful messages and loving posts. I do read all of them.

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • ken sweat May 21, 2014, 4:51 pm

    David: I think it is so kind of you to post this. It is great to hear of such a bond between you and your Dad. I still watch The Andy Griffith Show sometimes. But when I see the the preview when Ernest T. Bass is on I never miss it-He still makes me laugh! He was surely one of a kind I know you miss him, and so do we, all of his fans. Take care and all my best to you, Ken

  • Gene ellis May 22, 2014, 10:48 am

    David, your dad brought so much laughter to my family, and we still watch Ernest t Bass on youtube videos. He will live on in my heart forever! Can’t thank you enough for having this website! I wish we could have a rock throwing contest ‘real convention’ would be fun! Well just wanted to say thanks for all the memories! PROFFESIONAL ROCK THROWER, Gene Ellis

  • G. Ling May 24, 2014, 6:40 am

    Losing a parent is one of the hardest and most painful things in this life. I have lost both of mine and when I was still pretty young. I know exactly how you feel, David. You always miss them and always think of them. They are with you, inside your heart and in your thoughts forever. The pain recedes but never goes completely away. My parents have been gone almost 30 years now and I still cry over it sometimes. God Bless you and your wonderful and talented father, David. Take care! I’m a huge Ernest T. Bass fan and have been since childhood! 🙂

  • Michelle Mitchell May 28, 2014, 4:35 pm

    David, it’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years since your dad passed away. I still and always will enjoy seeing him as Ernest T Bass on the Andy Griffith Show. I recently saw a video of your dad with Sid Caesar on Sid’s show. Howard Morris was a comic genius. I continue to have a picture of your dad as Ernest T Bass as my wallpaper on my work computer. I am 52 years old. My co-workers who are much younger than me have no idea who this strange little man is on my desktop. I think that’s just sad. I am so glad I grew up in the era when television was good. You were blessed to have him as your father.

  • Gwen Truax June 6, 2014, 10:32 pm

    David, Another David introduced me to this website. I wanted you to know, your dad’s ETB was my favorite character on my favorite television show. I have actually printed out the words to Ernest T.’s courting song to Charlene and joined a fellow AGS lover in serenading her husband. I am sorry for your loss and I know you must miss him, so much. The world is a happier place because Howard Morris was here.

  • Cindy June 13, 2014, 12:39 am

    Just finished watching your dad on Thriller, an episode entitled “Lethal Ladies”. He was so versatile, it took me a few I minutes to realize that this was Ernest T. Bass! What a talented man that could play so many very different characters. I’m sure it was fun growing up with a dad like that. Nice website too. Thank you.

  • Jane Shaw July 10, 2014, 6:27 pm

    July 10, 2014 I’m watching your dad right now on an Andy Griffith episode on TVLand — “The Education of Ernest T Bass” – 1964. What an incredible actor. Ernest T. had to be one of your dad’s favorite characters to portray. He is greatly missed.


  • Wendy Vaughn July 10, 2014, 6:47 pm

    That’s funny Jane! So are we! My husband loves to watch Andy Griffith when Ernest T. Bass is on! Great actor!

  • Smidee July 10, 2014, 10:39 pm

    David, I just googled your dad’s name because I saw it in the credits for director of “Barney’s Bloodhound” episode. I was not aware that Ernest T Bass was also a director.
    I am now an even bigger fan.

  • Bert Shafer August 1, 2014, 4:25 pm

    I have to say I LOVE LOVE LOVE your dad. He makes me laugh every time I watch him! Thank you for having this website so we can honor him. He is my all-time favorite Andy Griffith character!

  • Bob Hamnuit August 4, 2014, 8:59 pm

    Today just got my DISH satellite installed and turned on the Andy Griffith Show. The episode played with Ernest T. Bass escaping from jail and throwing rocks in windows. Ended with him wearing Barney’s police uniform. Loved it! Your father brought such joy and laughter to me for many years. Best to you and your family. Take care.

  • Jon Johnson August 4, 2014, 9:44 pm

    I love your dad so much. Everything I do his voice or act like Earnest The Bass people laugh and I just love to impersonate him. Brings a smile on my face just thinking of him.

    • Jon Johnson August 4, 2014, 9:47 pm

      My thumb can’t spell what I was trying to say lol but you got it.

  • Becky August 10, 2014, 8:15 pm

    What a joy to find this website! We love the character Ernest T. Bass and how Mr. Morris brought him to life. My son and I have a question for you. My son competes in a speech and debate club for home educated students. We are shocked how many young people don’t know about this character. He would like to bring the Ernest character to life in a humorous interpretive event this year. He would like to do the episode where Ernest gets his diploma. Here is the catch. The script he interprets has to have been in print with a copyright date. Were these old episodes ever printed in a book or other medium that you know of? We would love any help. We would love to have him pay tribute to this great character.

  • Gypsy T. August 11, 2014, 12:30 am

    Your dad had the best laugh! It was wonderful! I’m watching him right now on an episode of Thriller titled ‘The Lethal Ladies’ from 1962

  • mary phillips August 21, 2014, 11:21 am

    Your father was certainly an amazing man. He was an excellent director as well as an amazing actor. Some of my favorite episodes of the Andy Griffith show were directed by “Mr. Bass”. May he rest in peace and my condolences to you and you’re family…Loved him…

  • James McNeill August 30, 2014, 9:42 am

    My wife, daughters and I have all the Andy Griffith Show series on DVD and believe it remains the best family show ever produced on television. We continue to watch them frequently and my younger daughter often mimics various characters on the show. Ernest T was, by far in our opinion, the best guest character actor on the show, or any show ever for that matter. The story of how he mastered the part on the fly, particularly being a city boy in real life, is an amazing tribute to his incredible talent.

    My only regret is that his character wasn’t used more often. I suppose Howard’s limited availability as an actor and Andy’s desire to maintain the original character of the show minimized his brilliant visits (just a guess). Thanks to an incredible performer/ director who continues to brighten the lives of many in such a limited number of appearances (only 5 as Ernest T).

  • David Margolick September 8, 2014, 4:01 pm

    David, I’m writing a book about Sid Caesar and of course your father is an important part of it. So I’d like very much to get in touch with you. Might this be possible? Many thanks.

    David Margolick

  • Charles king July 29, 2015, 8:52 pm

    Howard Morris was a real talent and I was thoroughly entertained with everything he did. thanks for all the joy your father brought into my life

  • Ronnie Sellers February 12, 2016, 8:05 pm

    Hey David, always been a fan . I’ve read a lot of what’s posted about your dad. I thought I saw something a few yrs. ago the he either wrote, directed or produced some of the Andy Gruffith episodes. Is that so?

  • Reba Dubay June 28, 2016, 5:38 pm

    Bless your dad. What a talented man. He still cracks me up. In a world gone crazy, it’s a real treat to watch “Ernest T” at his best. Laughter is still the best therapy.

  • Jan August 10, 2016, 6:41 pm

    David, I just watched the episode of Charlene Darling getting married. Your dad was always the funniest character! In real life was he always cutting up or did he have a serious side? I love that you and he had a close relationship. Thanks for keeping his memory alive for us fans.

    • David Morris August 12, 2016, 7:13 pm

      Hi Jan, yes, he did have a serious side, but I tend to tell folks that for me it was like being raised by a cartoon character. He was extremely funny with an intelligent edge.

  • cw August 7, 2019, 6:10 pm

    He still makes me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing

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