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Posted 16 Apr 2001   For week ended April 06, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 09Apr01

By Paul Carter

The One-eyed Mormon Democrat

PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- Morris Udall was the Congressman from eastern Arizona for 30 years, until 1991 when he retired from politics. He died in 1998 and a new biography, written by Donald W. Carson and James W. Johnson, has recently been completed: "Mo: The Life and Times of Morris K. Udall." The book is published by University of Arizona Press, which also published and has reissued the book "Too Funny to be President," written by Congressman Udall after his loss in the 1976 Primaries to Jimmy Carter.

The latest book was reviewed by Martin Naparsteck in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Mo was raised in St. John's Arizona in an active Latter-Day Saint home, though in the latest book, Mo is quoted as not having "found a need for organized religion in my adult life."

In the 1960's Morris Udall and his brother Stewart were prominent in western politics. Stewart Udall had been elected Congressman from Arizona first, but was named Secretary of the Interior by President Kennedy in 1960. Morris was elected to fill his brother's position in 1961, beginning his 30 years as a congressman.

The rugged good looks of the Udall brothers and their impact on Democratic Party politics in the Southwest naturally brought comparisons to another set of brothers from the East. The Udall brothers were often referred to as "The Western Kennedys".

The Morris K. Udall Foundation website provides a brief summary of the highlights of Congressman Udall's life. After losing his right eye in an accident at age 6 Morris Udall went on to become:

" of his high school basketball team, quarterback for the football team, trumpet player in the school band, student body president and valedictorian...he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Pacific, entering as a private and honorably discharged as captain." After World War II, the achievements of "Mo" Udall continued. "In 1946, Udall returned to The University of Arizona and earned a law degree. He obtained an airplane pilot license, played professional basketball for the Denver Nuggets and, after scoring highest on the state bar exam, was admitted to the Arizona Bar and began practicing law with his brother Stewart."

Representative Udall was well-known for his sense of humor, hence the title of his book, "Too Funny to be President." Once, on the golf course, he was asked if he had a handicap. "I'm a one-eyed Mormon Democrat from conservative Arizona. You can't find a higher handicap than that," was his quick reply.

One comical occurrence cited in the new book can't be attributed to Mo's sense of humor, but must have been pretty funny at the time. According to teammate Fred Enke, during one basketball game of Mo's college career playing for the University of Arizona, a bump to the head sent Mo's glass eye scurrying across the court. Play was halted at players scrambled to catch up to the errant eyeball.

Representative Morris Udall, of course, had a very serious and successful career in the House of Representatives. His three decades of service are chronicled in the book as well.

In 1968, Congressman Udall encouraged a young basketball player named Bill Bradley to pursue his opportunities in basketball first and then seek a career in politics. Representative Udall played one season for the Denver Nuggets of the pre-NBA National Basketball League. Player Bradley, of course had a celebrated career in the NBA, served at Senator from New Jersey, and then himself came in second in Democratic Presidential Primaries last year.

The Udall name continues to figure in national politics. Representative Mark Udall, Democratic Congressman from Boulder Colorado is the son of Morris and Representative Tom Udall, Democratic Congressman from New Mexico is son of Stewart.


Unanswered Questions on Udall Make Less of 'Mo'
Salt Lake Tribune 1Apr01 A4
By Martin Naparsteck: Special to the Tribune

The Morris K. Udall Foundation website


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Mo: The Life and Times of Morris K. Udall
More about "Mo: The Life and Times of Morris K. Udall" by Donald W. Carson and James W. Johnson at

Too Funny to Be President
More about "Too Funny to Be President" by Morris K. Udall, Bob Neuman and Randy Udall at

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information