Greg Morris (born Francis Gregory Alan Morris, September 27, 1933-August 27, 1996) was an African-American Actor. He was best known to TV audiences as IMF agent Barney Collier on the classic CBS series Mission Impossible. He once appeared as a celebrity panelist on The $50,000 Pyramid in the early 1980s.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio. His father was a trumpet player who left the family when Greg was three years old. He spent part of his youth in New York, where his mother was a secretary to A. Philip Randolph, the black labor leader who helped found the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
After High School, Morris enlisted in the United States Army during the Korean War. After his stint in the army, Greg returned to civilian life and sought after a career in entertainment. While in college, he was active in theater and hosted the late afternoon Jazz radio show, "Tea-Time", on the University of Iowa station, WSUI. He co-produced concerts at the university with a student friend.
After Iowa, he arrived in Hollywood in the early 1960s as his acting experience at that time only consisted of a few minor roles on the Seattle stage. His first professional stage role was in The Death of Bessie Smith. One of his earliest television roles was a cameo appearance on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the titled episode "That's My Boy?" where Rob becomes convinced that they've taken home the wrong baby from the hospital. The revelation of Morris' character as the other child's father prompted a record setting bout of laughter from the studio audience.
Greg then appeared on the ABC college life drama Channing (during it's 1963-1964 season) starring Jason Evers and Henry Jones. Other guest-starring appearances including shows like The Twilight Zone, Ben Casey, and Branded.
In 1966, Morris was cast in the TV role that would become his most notable work to TV audiences as the quiet, efficient electronics expert Barney Collier in the TV series Mission: Impossible (debuting September 17, 1966 on CBS), co-starring alongside Peter Graves, Steven Hill, Barbara Bain, and Peter Lupus. The program ran for seven seasons and 171 episodes (ending it's run on March 30, 1973) and Greg, along with Lupus and Bob Johnson were the only actors to remain with the series for it's entirety.
After Mission: Impossible was cancelled, Morris went on to appear in movies and made guest TV appearances various shows including a 1974 episode of The Six Million Dollar Man titled "Little Orphan Airplane". He also appeared on a 1976 two-part episode of Sanford and Son titled "The Hawaiian Connection". He was later cast as Lt. David Nelson during the second season of the TV series Vega$. After the cancellation of that series in 1981, Greg continued to make guest TV appearances into the next decade.
Greg also became a fixture on the game show circuit. He once appeared as a celebrity guest on The $50,000 Pyramid in the early 1980s, his only known appearance on the game show throughout it's long history. In addition, he has also appeared as a panelist on the classic game show Match Game in the 70s and as a celebrity panelist on both Password and it's revival Password Plus.
Morris only married once. In 1956, he married Leona Keyes and during their marriage, they had three children: daughters Linda and Iona and son Phil. Greg and Leona divorced in 1995.
His son Phil Morris, starred in a short-lived remake of the Mission: Impossible series and his character was Grant Collier, the son of Gregg's character Barney (Morris had a cameo role in the series).
Greg was also a lifelong smoker, in 1990, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and shortly thereafter, it was then discovered that he had a brain tumor, which was removed in 1991. In May 1996, he stated he was cancer free. On August 27, 1996, at the age of 62, Morris died of brain cancer. He was found dead in his Las Vegas apartment by a maintenance worker.
Shortly before his death, Morris went to see the film version of Mission: Impossible starring Tom Cruise. The reports were that he disliked the movie so much (an opinion that was shared by most of his former co-stars), less than an hour into the film, he stormed out of the theater. According to the Associated Press, he said of the movie: "It's an abomination."