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

“And he hadn’t said that for a long time.”

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.
(Image credit: Getty/Axelle/Bauer-Griffin)

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

Morrison married Perry's mother, Suzanne, in 1981

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“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,

Perry struggled with addiction for a quarter century, and it was the battle of his life

(Image credit: Archives)

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

Perry shot to fame in 1994 after the premiere of "Friends," where he played Chandler Bing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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

Perry died last October 28 at 54 years old

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.