Victor ‘Vic’ Morrow was born on February 14, 1929 in The Bronx, New York to a middle class Jewish family. When he was 17, Morrow dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Navy.
Morrow's first movie role was in “Blackboard Jungle” (1955). In 1958 he starred alongside Elvis Presley in “King Creole”, directed by Michael Curtiz. Morrow's career then expanded when he went into television. Later, he guest starred on John Payne's NBC western series, “The Restless Gun”. In 1959, he appeared in the premiere of NBC's 1920s crime drama The Lawless Years in the episode "The Nick Joseph Story". Morrow then appeared from 1960–1961 as Joe Cannon in three episodes of “The Outlaws” with Barton MacLane. In 1961, he appeared in an episode of the drama series ‘Target: The Corruptors!’ with Stephen McNally and Robert Harland. He appeared in two episodes of both ‘The Untouchables’ and ‘Bonanza’.
From 1962-1967 he was cast in the lead role of Sergeant "Chip" Saunders in ‘Combat!’, a World War II drama. His friend and fellow actor on ‘Combat!’, Rick Jason, described Morrow as "a master director" who directed "one of the greatest anti-war films I've ever seen." He was referring to the two-part episode of ‘Combat!’ entitled “Hills Are for Heroes”.
He also worked as a television director. Together with Leonard Nimoy, he produced a 1966 version of ‘Deathwatch’, an English language film version of Jean Genet's play Haute Surveillance, adapted by Morrow and Barbara Turner, directed by Morrow, and starring Nimoy. After Combat! ended, he worked in several films. Morrow wrote and directed a 1970 Euro- western, produced by Dino DeLaurentiis, titled “A Man Called Sledge” starring James Garner, Dennis Weaver, and Claude Akins. Morrow can be seen in the film as the gold guard wearing a coonskin cap and riding a pinto horse. After ‘Deathwatch’, it was Morrow's first and only big screen outing behind the camera.
In 1982, Morrow was cast in a feature role in “Twilight Zone: The Movie”, directed by John Landis. In the early morning hours of July 23, 1982, Morrow and two children, Myca Dinh Le (age 7), and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (age 6), were filming on location in Ventura County, California. They were performing in a scene for the Vietnam sequence in which their characters attempt to escape from a pursuing U.S. Army helicopter out of a deserted Vietnamese village. The helicopter was hovering at about 24 feet above them when pyrotechnic explosions damaged it and caused it to crash on top of them, killing all three instantly. Morrow and Dinh were decapitated by the helicopter rotor. Chen was crushed by a helicopter strut.
Today we remember Vic Morrow on what would have been his 85th birthday.