Monday, February 06, 2006



He was a career celebrity - raised by parents who were professional entertainers. After a princely education, he moved into radio, songwriting, and business. Mort was not one to hide in the shadows.

Yet we remember him best for a brash, syndicated TV program he taped in the 1980's. Suddenly, the charismatic 'Loudmouth' was truly a national figure. Without the pompous self-importance of Rush or O'Reilly, he was a conservative with 'street-cred.' Mort was unpolished, offensive, and cocky. In simple terminology, the show was pure 'New York' theater.

His program struck a nerve with viewers. The use of bombast was heavy-handed. Included were such intellectual diversions as a mock trial for Jane Fonda; a physical altercation between Roy Innis and Al Sharpton; a near assault on Lawyer Gloria Allred; and an outraged studio audience. The conversations were always high-decibel encounters. Mort chain-smoked while directing venom. 'Pablum-puking liberals' were a regular target of derision.

Downey began to slide as his antics became more extreme. He reached a theoretical limit -the inability to top himself. First, he appeared on-location next to a homeless man living in an oversized, cardboard box. Tears streamed over his cheeks while considering the plight of this destitute fellow. The moment was touching, but out of character. Empathy was not his 'schtick.'

Soon afterward, the infamous 'Bathroom Incident' occurred. Mort claimed to have been attacked by a Neo-Nazi gang. They cut his hair, painted his face with a swastika, and then disappeared. Supposedly they told him "Now, you're one of us!" But police were skeptical. It was the end of another chapter in his careening life experience.

MD tried to revive his program on CNBC, and later, as a new syndicated series. Finally, he appeared on Cleveland radio for WTAM-1100, doing an evening talk show. But the magic had been exhausted. Mort walked off the air without further review, leaving the station to scramble for a replacement.

Morton finished life as a cancer-stricken spokesman for the 'anti-smoking' cause. He passed away as Jerry Springer and Maury Povich mined gold from the vein that he had first exposed.
While he might not have been beloved, no one can deny that the 'Loudmouth' was always memorable.

Rest In Peace, Mr. D...