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RIP Harry Morgan

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Prolific character actor Harry Morgan has left us after a brief bout with pneumonia. Depending upon your age, you might remember Morgan as Pete Porter, the next-door neighbor on December Bride (a role that he played so well he was given a spin-off series, Pete and Gladys) or as the comic foil to straight-laced Jack Webb on Dragnet. Or perhaps you've only ever seen him in his Emmy Award-winning role as Col. Sherman Potter on M*A*S*H. If that's the case, it would behoove you to consult IMDb and check out Morgan's vast body of work over the years, both in film and on television. In the meantime, here are a few fast, fun facts about the actor born Harry Bratsburg 96 years ago:

Old School

Morgan was born in Detroit but grew up in Muskegon, Michigan, on the western coast of the Mitten. He graduated from Muskegon High School in 1933 and then left the state to attend college in Chicago. He only returned to Muskegon once, in 1978, to film a TV commercial for Lifesavers candy. It was part of a series of ads showing stars returning to their home towns (Suzanne Somers was featured in one) and reminiscing. For whatever reason, Morgan's commercial only aired once, during an episode of Happy Days.

(COOL PERSONAL ANECDOTE: A friend of mine was a senior at Muskegon High in 1978 and was lucky enough to have been chosen to appear briefly with Morgan in the commercial.)

Homey Touches

Harry Morgan was married to actress Eileen Detchon for 45 years, until her death in 1985. That photo that Col. Potter kept on his desk of his wife "Mildred"? It was really a photo of Eileen. Bill Gannon's oft-mentioned wife on Dragnet was named "Eileen." On the wall in Col. Potter's office are many paintings and drawings, one of which is a child's sketch of a horse. The artist of that piece was Jeremy Morgan, Harry's eldest grandchild. And the steed on which Potter trotted off on in the "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" M*A*S*H finale was one of Morgan's own, brought in from the Santa Rosa ranch where he raised quarter horses.

Loosening Up Ol' Stoneface...Almost

Morgan landed the role of Officer Bill Gannon when Jack Webb resurrected Dragnet for yet another run in 1967. Much like Sgt. Friday's previous partner, Frank Smith, Gannon lightened the mood with monologues about his favorite (sometimes stomach-turning) foods and his takes on current fads. Morgan was a natural comic and story-teller, so Webb occasionally let him ad-lib a few lines (previously unheard of on the Dragnet set) and would bounce off of him with a patented Joe Friday stare or gesture. Webb and Morgan got along off the set as well, partially because Webb knew that Morgan didn't "need" this job; if he ever decided he'd had a belly full he could easily quit and find another, better-paying role the same day. Only one time did Webb ever blow up at Morgan on the set; Harry had told a humorous story to the extras around 9AM while waiting for the "Action!" call. At 4:30PM that day, Jack (who also served as director on many episodes, and was used to filming going like clockwork) was particularly cranky because he was having trouble getting a scene "in the can." During a break Harry joked around a bit with some stagehands, whereupon Jack loudly rebuked him: "[Expletive] it, maybe if you'd stop horsing aroud we'd get this!"

Morgan wasn't always simply the lighthearted sidekick; watch Sgt. Friday and Officer Gannon in one of Dragnet's more serious moments and see if many of their points aren't still valid some 40+ years later:

Major Coolness Credits

Not only did Harry Morgan co-star in a movie with the King himself, Elvis Presley, he also appeared twice on The Partridge Family, which meant he shared the stage with '70s heartthrob (*sigh*) David Cassidy. Oh, and also a very young and brassiere-less Farrah Fawcett.

For the love of Annie's argyles, don't be shy – please feel free to post your favorite Harry Morgan memories, be they a Col. Potter quote or a moment from one of his umpteen other screen appearances.

Google Street View Now Lets You Explore the International Space Station

Google Street View covers some amazing locations (Antarctica, the Grand Canyon, and Stonehenge, to name a few), but it’s taken until now for the tool to venture into the final frontier. As TechCrunch reports, you can now use Street View to explore the inside of the International Space Station.

The scenes, photographed by astronauts living on the ISS, include all 15 modules of the massive satellite. Viewers will be treated to true 360-degree views of the rooms and equipment onboard. Through the windows, you can see Earth from an astronaut's perspective and a SpaceX Dragon craft delivering supplies to the crew.

Because the imagery was captured in zero gravity, it’s easy to lose sense of your bearings. Get a taste of what ISS residents experience on a daily basis here.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Lucy Quintanilla/iStock
6 East Coast Castles to Visit for a Fairy Tale Road Trip
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Lucy Quintanilla/iStock

Once the stuff of fairy tales and legends, a variety of former castles have been repurposed today as museums and event spaces. Enough of them dot the East Coast that you can plan a summer road trip to visit half a dozen in a week or two, starting in or near New York City. See our turrent-rich itinerary below.


59 miles from New York City

The crumbling exterior of Bannerman Castle
Garrett Ziegler, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bannerman Castle can be found on its very own island in the Hudson River. Although the castle has fallen into ruins, the crumbling shell adds visual interest to the stunning Hudson Highlands views, and can be visited via walking or boat tours from May to October. The man who built the castle, Scottish immigrant Frank Bannerman, accumulated a fortune shortly after the Civil War in his Brooklyn store known as Bannerman’s. He eventually built the Scottish-style castle as both a residence and a military weapons storehouse starting in 1901. The island remained in his family until 1967, when it was given to the Taconic Park Commission; two years later it was partially destroyed by a mysterious fire, which led to its ruined appearance.


116 miles from Beacon, New York

William Gillette was an actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes, which may have something to do with where he got the idea to install a series of hidden mirrors in his castle, using them to watch guests coming and going. The unusual-looking stone structure was built starting in 1914 on a chain of hills known as the Seven Sisters. Gillette designed many of the castle’s interior features (which feature a secret room), and also installed a railroad on the property so he could take his guests for rides. When he died in 1937 without designating any heirs, his will forbade the possession of his home by any "blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” The castle is now managed by the State of Connecticut as Gillette Castle State Park.


74 miles from East Haddam, Connecticut

The exterior of Belcourt castle
Jenna Rose Robbins, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt designed Belcourt Castle for congressman and socialite Oliver Belmont in 1891. Hunt was known for his ornate style, having designed the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, but Belmont had some unusual requests. He was less interested in a building that would entertain people and more in one that would allow him to spend time with his horses—the entire first floor was designed around a carriage room and stables. Despite its grand scale, there was only one bedroom. Construction cost $3.2 million in 1894, a figure of approximately $80 million today. But around the time it was finished, Belmont was hospitalized following a mugging. It took an entire year before he saw his completed mansion.


111 miles from Newport, Rhode Island

Part of the exterior of Hammond castle
Robert Linsdell, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. built his medieval-style castle between 1926 and 1929 as both his home and a showcase for his historical artifacts. But Hammond was not only interested in recreating visions of the past; he also helped shape the future. The castle was home to the Hammond Research Corporation, from which Hammond produced over 400 patents and came up with the ideas for over 800 inventions, including remote control via radio waves—which earned him the title "the Father of Remote Control." Visitors can take a self-guided tour of many of the castle’s rooms, including the great hall, indoor courtyard, Renaissance dining room, guest bedrooms, inventions exhibit room, library, and kitchens.


430 miles from Gloucester, Massachusetts

It's a long drive from Gloucester and only accessible by water, but it's worth it. The German-style castle on Heart Island was built in 1900 by millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt, who created the extravagant structure as a summer dream home for his wife Louise. Sadly, she passed away just months before the place was completed. The heartbroken Boldt stopped construction, leaving the property empty for over 70 years. It's now in the midst of an extensive renovation, but the ballroom, library, and several bedrooms have been recreated, and the gardens feature thousands of plants.


327 miles from Alexandria Bay, New York

Part of the exterior of Fonthill castle

In the mood for more castles? Head south to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where Fonthill Castle was the home of the early 20th century American archeologist, anthropologist, and antiquarian Henry Chapman Mercer. Mercer was a man of many interests, including paleontology, tile-making, and architecture, and his interest in the latter led him to design Fonthill Castle as a place to display his colorful tile and print collection. The inspired home is notable for its Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and with 44 rooms, there's plenty of well-decorated nooks and crannies to explore.


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