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New Addition to the Sousa Archives’ Collections

Eddie Morris as Pottle, 1924 (top), Eddie Morris pictured in second row, second man on right, 1913 (middle), and Hippodrome sheet music cover, undated (bottom).

The Center just completed the processing of the Eddie Morris Sheet Music and Photograph collection which documents one of Decatur, Illinois’ forgotten theatrical heroes who performed regularly on stages in New York and London between 1902 and 1925.  Eddie Morris (1887-1932) was born and raised in Decatur, Illinois. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Morris, and his father was a well known tailor to the Decatur community.  According to the February 18, 1932 Decatur Herald, Eddie had a fascination for the theatrical stage as a young boy, and his ability to mimic personalities made him a popular entertainer for the local community.

When he was old enough to work he took a position with the Decatur Powers Opera house and was given the position of treasurer. He later worked for the H. I. Baldwin Grain and Commission Company, and in 1907 went to Philadelphia as the private secretary to the president of the Economic Life Insurance Company. With this experience and his love of the stage he took a position as secretary for Henry W. Savage, who at the time, was the leading theatrical producer in New York City.

Eddie’s talent was soon recognized and he was given a part in George Ade’s “College Widow,” and his theatrical career matured while performing major parts in Frohman’s “Arcadians,” Klaw and Erlanger’s “Pink Lady,” “The Little Cafe,” and many other productions. In 1915 he traveled to England where he worked on two motion pictures. As a traveling actor he toured much of the eastern United States, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, England, and South Africa. Returning to the United States after World War I he settled in California with his daughter, mother, and wife, Loretta Doyle, sometime between 1927 and 1929.  He met Loretta while they were performing in a production of “The Pink Lady,” and they married on Christmas in 1911.  However, he did not tell his mother that he was married until 1923.

Little else is known about Eddie Morris after he moved to California, but the collection of photographs and music provide tantalizing clues about the actors, actresses and directors he worked with, and the music that he would have likely performed during his career.  Many of the actresses’ autographed photographs include intimate notes to Eddie which also suggest that he was a sweetheart to many of them.

Further information about this interesting collection of photographs and music can be found in the Eddie Morris Sheet Music and Photographs finding aid.  For additional information on how to access this and the Center’s other historical music collections either call 217-333-4577 or email sousa@illinois.edu.

 

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