|He's TV Color Blind
Vic Morrow prefers his show, Combat! in black and white
by Bob Lardine, New York
Sunday News, October 31, 1965
(thank you to fan Joe Augusto for sharing this article from his collection of
With the big swing to color on TV this year, it's surprising to run
into an actor who hates the thought or red sunsets, green hills and blue skies on his
show. Vic Morrow, unsmiling hero of ABC-TV's "Combat," glumly says: "I
suppose our show will eventually go to color, but I hope not. I prefer the program in
black and white. "Combat" is gutsy and raw, and comes across better in stark
Contract Vic's sentiments on color to those of the stars below.
LUCILLE BALL: "Color gives our series a great big shot in the arm. The program
immediately has a new dimension."
INGER STEVENS: "My TV marriage to William Windom tomorrow looks spectacular in color.
It would have been drab in black and white. I'm thrilled our series switched to
ANDY GRIFFITH: "There's no doubt about it. Color has given my show a needed
IRENE RYAN: "I figure color will boost the popularity of the 'Beverly Hillbillies'
100 per cent this season."
But Vic shrugs off their comments. "Color may be all right for them," says the
dour, New York-born actor, "but it would hurt 'Combat.' If you remember, the
newsreels during the last war accurately captured the harshness and cruelty of war because
they were filmed in black and white. The same footage in color would have
seemed artificial. It would have been a prettified picture of an unpretty situation."
Vic has survived 120 "battles" in his three years on "Combat," which
is quite an accomplishment considering the numerous explosions set off by the program's
special effects department. "No one has been hurt," says Vic, "though we've
all been plenty frightened on one occasion or another. Hearing and seeing those tanks
rumbling at you is enough to scare anybody. Showing fear is nothing to be ashamed of.
We've all been afraid at various times in our lives."
The outspoken actor escaped without a scratch from his actual tour of duty in service.
"In 1947, I joined the Navy, but I didn't see any combat," says the
"Combat" veteran. "I was just a kid of 17 at the time and war seemed
Despite his lack of authentic battle experience, Vic's expert portrayal of a highly
disciplined soldier doing a dirty job has won high praise from the people who know best:
soldiers. "When I visited Fort Bragg, N.C., the brass presented me with many
awards," says Vic. "And then I stood by uncomfortably as the soldiers passed in
review for me. I really felt tremendously honored by their tribute to our show."
The actor hadn't finished glowing over this testimonial when he was sent to the
Philippines to help publicize "Combat." Vic was astonished by the size of the
crowd greeting him at the airport. "I just wanted to go quietly to my hotel, but they
insisted on a motorcade and sirens blaring. The people broke through polic lines to touch
me. I was a symbol of the U.S. Army. And while they were swarming all over me, I kept
saying to myself: 'All right, Vic, behave yourself! You've fouled up all your life. Don't
do it here!'"
Vic admits he was confused and embittered much of his life. "I still have strange
reactions when I go back to New York City," he says. "I was mixed up the entire
time I lived there. I drove a cab for two years. I never talked, never communicated with
anyone. I didn't know how. I was angry and hostile all thetime. Analysis helped somewht. I
saw psychaitrists on and off for three years. But it was acting that helped me get rid of
the anger and hostility."
As an actor, Vic established himself as a "heavy" early in his career.
"They kep giving me parts in pictures such as 'The Blackboard Jungle,' playing a
knife-wielding juvenile delinquent. It wasn't until I landed the 'Combat' role that I
really established myself in this business."
Now Vic's no longer "plugged up with bitterness." He laughs: "I'll probably
wind up in the next few years 40 pounds overweight, smoking big cigars and belching a
lot." It appears that Vic has finally achieve a sense of happiness. But he does have
an occasional gripe. "I love 'Combat,'" Vic says, "but just once I'd like
to know how it
feels to work in a series with a clean undershirt, neat suit, and make love to beautiful
About Vic Morrow
Vic Morrow Biography
Vic Morrow Interview: The Good Samaritan
Vic Morrow filmography - TV and Movie roles
Books about Vic Morrow - his Life and Death
Vic Morrow Interview: TV Color Blind
A Sergeant Scorned
Saunders: episodes he appears in
Vic Morrow Photo Gallery