He was best known as the avatar of shock TV in the 1980s, but Morton Downey Jr. who died Monday at age 67 after a five-year battle with lung cancer was also a singer and songwriter.
Downey followed in the footsteps of his father, '30s-era singer Morton Downey. In 1959, the younger Downey recorded "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," which was accompanied by a proto-video featuring Downey wandering said boulevard in a trenchcoat. He also had a hand in writing the benchmark surf-rock tunes "Pipeline" and "Wipeout," according to the Associated Press.
But it was his syndicated TV program, "The Morton Downey Jr. Show," that brought Downey his greatest notoriety. It ran from 1987-89 and featured Downey openly abusing his guests, often blowing smoke in the faces of those "pabulum pukers" of a liberal bent he particularly disagreed with.
The most punk-rock moment of Downey's career was when he claimed that skinheads ambushed him in a San Francisco airport and gave him an ersatz Mohawk and inscribed a swastika onto his head. It was widely assumed to be a hoax, perpetrated by Downey to generate publicity for his failing program.
His last album was Morton Downey Jr. Sings, released in 1989 on the Compose label. It was a novelty record featuring the likes of "Hey Mr. Dealer," a denunciation of the drug trade, and "Zip It," a succinct command to his detractors.