2020-08-27 20:10:54 UTC
Sid Noel, who played Morgus the Magnificent and created the beloved TV show, has died
Actor Sidney Noel Rideau, better known to generations of New Orleanians as Dr. Morgus the Magnificent, a well-meaning mad scientist who presided over televised horror films, died of natural causes on Thursday morning at Christwood Retirement Community in Covington, according to his daughter Natalie Rideau. He was 90 years old.
Rideau was born on Christmas 1929, hence his stage name, Noel. He graduated from Alcee Fortier High School, and attended Loyola University where he studied communications and lead a charity entertainment troupe that performed at local hospitals and nursing homes. During the Korean War, Rideau served for eight years in the U. S. Navy Reserve.
Rideau first reached a wide audience when he hosted WWL radio’s morning Dawnbusters program in the mid 1950s. In a 2019 interview, he said he may have gotten a reputation for comedy when he pretended to receive an on-air telephone call from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
The disheveled, dentally challenged, mildly monstrous character he invented first debuted on WWL TV in 1959. as the host of a weekly Hollywood horror movie. Morgus’ philosophical ranting and reckless experiments made him an adorably delusional Crescent City icon. Over time, the self-assured scientist experimented with instant hair transplants, teleportation, cloning, curing werewolves and electrically rehabilitating the criminal mind. In one episode, Morgus used a sparking, smoldering gizmo to drain the musical talent from the brain of jazz maestro Pete Fountain, who stumbled off the set like a zombie.
By 1962, Noel's lovably nutty character was so popular that he was invited to star in a full-length feature film, "The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus," which had a cursory sci-fi Cold War spy plot. Versions of the Morgus show continued until 1987. Noel’s last performance was a live autobiographical show at the Orpheum Theater in October 2019.
Rideau is survived by daughter Natalie Noelle Rideau and son Robin Douglas Rideau. His family plans a private funeral service at a later date.