David Bernard Morrell had a troubled childhood. His father, George Morrell, flew with the Royal Air Force in World War II but was wounded and died of pneumonia shortly after David’s birth. His mother, Beatrice Markle Morrell, who struggled financially and had her own troubled childhood, temporarily put David in an orphanage when he was four. Morrell has wondered if the woman who retrieved him was the same one who had left him. Morrell’s mother then placed David on a Mennonite farm while she worked, seeing him only on weekends.
Morrell’s mother eventually remarried and brought him to live with her and her new husband above a bar. His stepfather was always arguing with his mother, however, and provided a poor father figure. Morrell often slept under his bed out of fear. The family had no television or telephone. Neither his mother nor his stepfather read much, so there were few books in the home. For entertainment, Morrell listened to the radio, explored abandoned buildings, and watched drunks fight beneath his window.
After their finances improved, the family moved to suburbia. Morrell treated school as a distraction, spending his time playing pool, running with street gangs, or watching television and films. Morrell’s life changed in 1960 when the television series Route 66 (1960-1964) aired. Stirling Silliphant wrote most of the show’s episodes, and Morrell found himself stimulated emotionally and intellectually by the...
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