Friday, April 19, 2024

Michele Lee Remembers Robert Morse: “He was the Robin Williams of musical theater, a comedic genius”


Michele Lee is best known for starring as Karen McKenzie for 14 years on CBS’s “Knots Landing.”

But Lee had a big Broadway career in the 1960s and early 70s, starting with “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” She was Rosemary to Robert Morse’s J. Pierrepont Finch first on stage and then in the 1967 movie. He famously sang “I Believe in You” to Lee, and in the film she sang it with him.

Hearing the news about her lifelong friend’s passing, Lee told me this afternoon: “I really believe Bobby was the Robin Williams of musical theater. He was a comedic genius. You never knew what he was going to do up there. And when you see us on screen, that’s not just Rosemary looking at him adoringly, that’s Michele Lee. That was really how I felt about him.”

Lee did not originate Rosemary. She was the replacement for the original actress, Bonnie Scott. who became pregnant four or five months into the run. But she and Morse just clicked, and the rest is history.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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