I am very sad to write that Barry Morse, a British/Canadian actor, has died.
He had a million roles in his long career, but readers of this blog no doubt remember him best as Professor Victor Bergman from Space: 1999. He was the resident scientist of Moonbase Alpha in the show, and brought a wonderful warmth and humanity to the show.
This hits me for two reasons. One was that his character of the scientist was a huge role model for me when I was a young teenager. I was awkward, nerdy and a major spazz. Bergman was thoughtful, generous, intelligent and well-liked by the other characters. He was a major hero of mine.
And, in 2000, I met him, when I attended a Space:1999 convention in NYC as the guest scientist. I was thrilled to go, of course, since I was major fanboy. I got to sit on stage at the opening panel with the stars of the show! At one point, I got to talk about how the show influenced me. Sitting next to Barry made me a little nervous, but I decided to tell him personally what a role model Bergman was for me. Especially since his character, when faced with something he didn't understand, was never afraid to say, "I don't know". He was a true scientist!
I didn't get much of a chance to talk with him, but as I rode down the escalator at one point he was going up the other side, and said "Oh, Phil, good! I want to talk to you later about something!" I'll be honest: I have no clue what he wanted to say, as we didn't get together after that. But just having him recognize me and call me by name made me feel like a teenager all over again. It made me want to do better science.
Goofy? Maybe. But that's the way I felt, and I still recognize the ability of actors to play characters who can inspire us.
I know there are other scientists out there who were urged along in their studies by Victor Bergman. And so, to the man behind the Professor: Mr. Morse, I salute you. And I thank you.