I just went into the internet to search Morgan Stock and got mainly Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley ``stocks.'' I thought, ``Wow, can't get much more contrast than Morgan Stock and Morgan Stanley stocks.''
Morgan Stock, after all, was an actor, director and compelling theater figure. They held a celebration of his life this morning which I couldn't make – I had to work – and I am sorry about that. It was held on the Morgan Stock Stage at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, California. Morgan founded the drama department at MPC.
Morgan was born in Ohio, attended and acted at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse, had his career interrupted serving in the military in World War II, then finished his theater degree at Stanford University.
Along the way he had some shots at the big time, trying New York and then film. Athletic and handsome, he was about to be recommended for a particular movie when the agent noticed Morgan's hairline was receding. So, sorry, pal, no go. Sean Connery and Ed Harris, among many leading men with questionable hairlines, should consider themselves lucky they were not around then.
Anyway, the receding hairline did not prevent Morgan Stock from helping to launch a vibrant theater community on the Monterey Peninsula. He had energy to burn and everyone seemed charmed by him. I was a newspaper theater critic for a time and once, before an opening, I introduced my visiting parents, George and Terry Hauk, to Morgan.
They chatted for a bit and when Morgan left to give a final pep talk to his actors, my mother said, ``Do you mean you will write about his show and if you don't like it you'll say so in the newspaper?'' When I said, yes, that was my job, she replied, rather disapprovingly, ``Oh, I don't see how you could do that. I could never criticize such a man.'' My father laughed, ``You're in trouble.''
I did get in trouble once with Morgan over a review. MPC was doing ``Hamlet'' and Top Stoppard's ``Rosencrantz and Gulidenstern Are Dead'' in repertory, opening with ``Hamlet,'' directed by Morgan. The unfortunate newspaper headline on my review the next day indicated ``Hamlet'' was a kind of set up for ``Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.''
Morgan didn't think Shakespeare, or his directing, was an opening act for anyone, even Stoppard, and he let me know it. I explained writers don't write their own headlines and that eased the tension.
The last time I saw Morgan was two or three years ago at a memorial for the charismatic lawyer and civil rights activist Bill Stewart. It was held at Ed Ricketts' Pacific Biological Laboratory on Monterey's Cannery Row. Morgan and Stewart were part of a group of men, business people and artists and cartoonists such as Gus Arriola, Eldon Dedini, Bruce Ariss, Hank Ketcham and Charles Schultz, who had carried on the spirit of the lab for decades.
On the same property where Ricketts, Joseph Campbell and John Steinbeck had discussed man's and nature's fate in the 1930s, and actually improved the outlook of both through their art and science – we owe much of today's efforts to conserve the planet to their vision – Morgan, in his deep, rumbling voice, read a moving tribute to Bill Stewart.
I don't think it was Morgan's last public appearance. But if it had been, it would have been a worthy one.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...