Garrett Morris: Chico Escuela Been Berry Berry Good For Comedy
Left: Garrett Morris on 'Saturday Night Live' in 1980. Right: Morris in 'Cooley High' (1975). Sources: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; IMDB
Garrett Morris earned his status as a comedy legend by making the cast of the first season of Saturday Night Live -- nobody knew it yet, of course, but alongside Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, Morris created funny sketches that ended up changing TV comedy forever. As baseball player Chico Escuela and the "School For The Hard Of Hearing" man, Morris turned in performances that make every highlight reel from the show's early years. A Julliard-trained performer, Morris has continued his career in television and movie comedy to this day, with recent work in Ant-Man and 2 Broke Girls.
Garrett Morris Showed Musical Talent At A Young Age
Morris was the first child born to his mother. He was actually the product of his mother being raped at the age of 16. For this reason, his grandparents stepped in to raise him. His grandfather was a Methodist Preacher and soon realized that Morris had musical abilities. His grandfather fostered that talent and he went on to study at Dillard University and trained vocally at Juilliard. This formal training boosted Morris into a blooming and successful career as a musical arranger and soloist before finding acting.
Garrett Morris Was The Oldest And Most Established Of The 'Not Ready For Prime Time Players'
Although Morris is remembered as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, he wasn't new to show business by 1975. Morris, who was born in 1937, was the oldest cast member, and he had already been on TV and in movies. He was on nine episodes of the short-lived TV comedy Roll Out in 1973, and when SNL debuted, Morris even had a movie in theaters: the cult classic Cooley High (1975). Morris actually had the most established career of that first season's cast, although some would leapfrog ahead of him as SNL improved their visibility.
Garrett Morris Sings!
Although Morris has made his career as a comedic actor, he has had occasion to use his singing talent. As a trained tenor, capable of singing opera in Italian and German, Morris often sang on Saturday Night Live in segments that had a funny concept while showing off his singing chops. Morris has released a handful of albums, including Saturday Night Sweet (1980) and Black Creole Chronicles (2014). The latter explores the music of his hometown, New Orleans, Louisiana.
A Fixture On SNL
Garret Morris spent five years on the late-night show and was an all time favorite. He was a comedic staple on the “Weekend Update” skit. One of the characters he portrayed on the fictitious news broadcast was as President of the New York School for the Hard of Hearing. His lighthearted answer to the plight of the hard of hearing was not sign language, but to speak VERY loudly!
Chico Escuela And Other Characters
Another character Morris portrayed on SNL was, Chico Escuela, a baseball player who always declared that “baseball been berry, berry good to me!”
Morris is also credited with many other roles on the big screen and in recurring roles on popular television shows of the era including, The Jeffersons, Diff'rent Strokes, Hill Street Blues, 227, and Roc. Awesome movies he contributed to include Car Wash and The Census Takers. Morris is a very talented actor who definitely earned his place in our hearts at a time when other African American actors were struggling to do the same.
Garrett Morris Today
Aside from studying music, and then drama, Morris was also a former schoolteacher in New York City. Morris, who is now in his 80s, continues to act. Fans got to enjoy his six-year run as Earl on 2 Broke Girls (2011-17), and were delighted by his cameo as a taxi cab driver in Ant-Man (2015).
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