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Matthew Perry’s Stepfather, ‘Dateline’ Correspondent Keith Morrison, Says He Was “Happy, and He Said So” At the End of His Life

 Actor Matthew Perry arrives at CBS, CW And Showtime 2015 Summer TCA Party at Pacific Design Center on August 10, 2015 in West Hollywood, California.
Actor Matthew Perry arrives at CBS, CW And Showtime 2015 Summer TCA Party at Pacific Design Center on August 10, 2015 in West Hollywood, California.

In a very strange crossover we probably never would have realized had actor Matthew Perry not died unexpectedly and tragically last October, the Friends star’s stepfather is Dateline correspondent Keith Morrison—if you don’t recognize his face, you’ll definitely recognize his voice. Speaking to Hoda Kotb on her podcast “Making Space,” Morrison detailed Perry’s demeanor at the end of his far-too-short life, which ended last October 28 at just 54 years old. (Morrison married Perry’s mother, Suzanne, in 1981.)

Keith Morrison
Keith Morrison

“He was happy, and he said so,” Morrison said of Perry. “And he hadn’t said that for a long time. So it’s a source of comfort—but also, he didn’t get to have his third act, and that’s not fair.”

After battling drug and alcohol addiction for a quarter century, Perry “felt like he was beating it,” Morrison told Kotb. “But you never beat it. And he knew that, too.” Because of Perry’s ongoing addiction issues, Morrison said his death “was the news you never want to get, but you think someday you might,” he said when asked if news of Perry’s death surprised him. “Yes and no, I guess is the answer to that.”

White-collar worker, Suit, Television presenter, Muscle, Event, Businessperson, Premiere,
White-collar worker, Suit, Television presenter, Muscle, Event, Businessperson, Premiere,

When Perry found sudden fame from starring in Friends—which premiered in 1994 and ended its run in 2004—Morrison called it a “whirlwind,” from adapting to celebrity to “fighting an addiction that was so virulent,” and in the public eye, no less. “He came to understand he’d get to a certain point, and then he knew he had to go and get treatment,” Morrison said. “And he’d accept help when he needed it. But as he said himself, it just kept happening, and it was a big bear. It was a tough thing to be—big, terrible thing.”

Towards the end of his life, Perry and his mother “we’re closer than I’ve seen them for decades,” Morrison said. “It’s not easy,” he added of his death. “Especially for his mom.” As for his own relationship with his stepson, “He had that kind of very fiery personality, and mine is not like that, as you can imagine,” Morrison said. “But we got along fine. I never tried to replace his dad…but I was there for him, and he knew it, and we were close,” he added, referring to Perry’s biological father, John Bennett Perry.

Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry

Morrison called Perry “a larger-than-life person,” adding he was “always the center of attention everywhere he went” because of his “goofy” and “funny” personality. “That’s gone, but you still feel the echo of it everywhere,” he said, adding “As other people have told me hundreds of times, it doesn’t go away. It’s with you every day. It’s with you all the time, and there’s some new aspect of it that assaults your brain.”

People reported in December that Perry’s death was revealed to be caused by acute effects of ketamine; drowning, coronary artery disease, and buprenorphine effects (a medication used to treat opioid use disorder) were also listed as contributing factors in his death, which was ruled accidental, his autopsy report showed.

Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry

Morrison and Suzanne started the Matthew Perry Foundation following his death to help those struggling with addiction.