Family & Companions
Most children of performers either do whatever they can to distance themselves from show business or they wholeheartedly embrace it and attempt to carve out their own niche. As the son of Greg Morris who for seven seasons played electronics expert Barney Collier on "Mission: Impossible," Phil Morris struggled with this dilemma before opting to pursue a career as an actor. As the middle child and only son, he began to entertain as a child, often reciting routines from comedy albums for his family. Following his graduation from high school, the tall, slender and handsome Morris worked as a production assistant on a never released film ("COM-TAC 303") that featured his father. ("I got paid, and I was meeting chicks. I had the whole Hollywood experience in six weeks," he told PEOPLE in April 1999.) Shortly thereafter he embarked on the rounds of auditions and bit roles.
Morris caught a break in 1984 when he signed to play a law student on the CBS daytime drama "The Young and the Restless." During his two year stint on the soap, his character was involved in one of the strangest plotlines in the history of the genre: Tyrone was to infiltrate the mob--as a white man. Morris endured the nearly three-hour daily makeup sessions but the psychological toll proved too much, despite the mostly positive notices he earned. In 1988, he was cast as the son of his father's character in the short-lived ABC remake of "Mission: Impossible." Other roles followed like the ruthlessly ambitious TV reporter in "WIOU" (CBS, 1990), the title character, the first black American bicycle racer in The Disney Channel biopic "Tracks of Glory: The Major Taylor Story" (1992), Steven Dimes in both "Jackie Collins' 'Lucky/Chances'" (NBC, 1990) and its sequel "Jackie Collins' 'Lady Boss'" (NBC, 1992) and the ship's purser in "The Love Boat: The Next Wave" (UPN, 1998-99) as well as numerous guest shots in sitcoms and dramas. Morris also began to make inroads in features, appearing as a trainee in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984), a pilot in "Wag the Dog" (1997) and a deadpan FBI agent in "Clay Pigeons" (1998).
But it was a 1995 guest role on the NBC sitcom "Seinfeld" as unctuous attorney Jackie Chiles (who bore more than a passing resemblance to celebrity lawyer Johnnie Cochran) that put Morris on the map. Over the next three years, the actor made occasional appearances as the bombastic legal beagle, including one in the series' much-touted finale. Morris was allowed to reprise the character in TV commercials for Honda in 1999 and eventually won Jerry Seinfeld's approval for a spin-off sitcom, "The Jackie Chiles Show."
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Moved to L.A. with family
Primetime acting debut in a guest part on the NBC drama series "Harris and Company"
Played recurring role on the CBS comedy "Mr. Merlin"
Feature film debut in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock"
Cast as Grant Collier, the son of Barney Collier (the role played by his real-life father in the original series), in the remake of "Mission: Impossible" (ABC)
Cast as Steven Dimes in the TV adaptation of "Jackie Collins' 'Lucky/Chances'" (NBC)
Played an unscrupulously ambitious reporter in the short-lived CBS drama "WIOU"
Reprised role of Steven Dimes in the NBC sequel "Jackie Collins' 'Lady Boss'"
Portrayed title character, the first black bicycle racer, in "Tracks of Glory: The Major Taylor Story" (DIsney Channel)
Introduced recurring character of slick lawyer Jackie Chiles in an episode of "Seinfeld"
Cast as a deadpan FBI agent in "Clay Pigeons"
Hosted the summer game show "You Asked For It!" (NBC)
Reprised the character of Jackie Chiles in commercials for Honda