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Comic Gary Morton Dies at 74

April 1, 1999

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) _ Gary Morton, the Borscht Belt comic who married Lucille Ball and became her executive producer, has died. He was 74.

Morton died Tuesday at Eisenhower Memorial Hospital, said John Caranci of Wiefels & Son Funeral Directors in Palm Springs. The cause of death wasn’t disclosed, but Daily Variety reported he died of lung cancer.

Morton, a stand-up comic, married Miss Ball after she divorced Desi Arnaz, her ``I Love Lucy″ sidekick. Morton and the actress were married for 29 years; Miss Ball died in 1989.

He was executive producer of Miss Ball’s ``The Lucy Show,″ which aired 1962-68, ``Here’s Lucy″ from 1968-74 and ``Life With Lucy,″ which was canceled after two months in 1986.

Morton also had supporting roles in films, including ``Lenny″ in 1974 and ``Postcards From the Edge″ in 1990.

Born Morton Goldaper in New York City, Morton became a popular nightclub comedian in New York, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas and the Borscht Belt before Miss Ball brought him to Hollywood and television.

After their marriage, Morton became involved with Miss Ball’s TV career as warmup comedian for her second CBS sitcom, ``The Lucy Show,″ for which ex-husband Arnaz was executive producer for a time.

Upon Miss Ball’s sale of Desilu to Paramount in 1967, she formed a new company, Lucille Ball Productions, naming Morton vice president. That company produced ``Here’s Lucy.″

Over the years, Morton continued to do the warmups for the series.

Morton also produced several Lucille Ball television specials through the 1970s, and other specials and films for television, including ``Bungle Abbey″ in 1981 and ``Sentimental Journey″ in 1984.

In motion pictures, he was executive producer of the 1983 ``All the Right Moves,″ which starred Tom Cruise as a high school football star.

He is survived by his wife of three years, Susie McAllister.

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