General News

Morton Downey Jr. Loses Battle with Lung Cancer

Mar 19, 2001 | 11:51am EST

Morton Downey Jr., the seemingly surly and always opinionated talk show host who reigned over "Trash TV" in the 1980s, died of lung cancer and other respiratory problems on Monday night, according to family members. He was 67.

Tracey Downey, one of Downey's four daughters, told KABC-TV, "The family is very grief stricken and very shocked right now. He was a wonderful, wonderful man, wonderful father. He will be deeply, deeply, deeply missed."

Downey, a chain smoker for years, shocked viewers from behind a smoggy haze, occasionally blowing the smoke in the faces of guests whose comments perturbed him. When he lost a lung to cancer in 1996, he became an anti-smoking crusader.

In his heyday, he was known as "Mort the Mouth," the host who mocked his sometimes bizarre guests as "slime" or "scumbucket" and argued frequently with members of his studio audience, dismissing liberals in particular as "pablum pukers."

Born Sean Morton Downey Jr. on Dec. 9, 1933, the talk show host attended military school and earned a marketing and law degree. He also appeared as an actor in such TV shows and movies as Tales from the Crypt, Meet Wally Sparks, Revenge of the Nerds III, Predator II and the new Rockford Files.

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