Morris Engle, 84, the retired owner of the old Harrigan's Restaurant in Southwest Washington who also was an artist and an actor, died of respiratory insufficiency Jan. 22 at the Washington Hospital Center.
Mr. Engle, who lived in Silver Spring, was born in Russia. He came to this country in 1907 and settled in Baltimore. During World War I, he served in the Army in France and was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action.
In 1935, he moved to Washington and went into the grocery business. This enterprise failed during World War II and Mr. Engle became the driver of a beer truck. One of his regular stops was Harrigan's, near 9th and H streets SW. In 1944, he bought it.
When the old Washington Star moved its headquarters to Southeast Washington about 1960, many people who worked there frequented Harrington's. Its clientele also included actors from the nearby Arena Stage and a number of artists. Mr. Engle presided over the premises as "Abe Harrigan."
In 1959, Mr. Engle allowed an artist patron to hang 20 of her pictures in his restaurant. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board objected on the ground that the law prohibited restaurants licensed to sell whiskey to engage in any other business. The controversy was thoroughly covered in the news media and in time the ABC Board reversed itself. Many art shows were held in the restaurant before it was taken over in 1968 by the Redevelopment Land Agency.
By then, Mr. Engle had begun his career on the stage. He made his debut in 1964 in a bit part in "The Wall," which was produced by the Arena Stage. He later appeared in other productions at the Arena and had parts in movies, including "All the President's Men" and "Scorpio," and he made television commercials. He studied painting and drawing at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Mr. Engle was a former president of the Southwest Citizens Association.
Survivors include his wife, Lillian, of Rockville; their son, Robert, of Clarksville, Md.; two stepdaughters, Ruby Jeweler of Silver Spring and Evelyn Ochs of Potomac; one brother, Leon Engle of North Miami, Fla.; three sisters, Sadie Levin, Getrude Adelman and Mitzi Kreps, all of Randallstown, Md.; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.