Matthew Perry's Stepfather Keith Morrison Says He Was 'Happy' Before His Death

Keith Morrison opens up about the late 'Friends' star's life before his death and dealing with his grief.

Dateline correspondent Keith Morrison is opening up about the process of grief nearly five months after the death of his stepson, Matthew Perry. Speaking with Hoda Kotb on the latest episode of her Making Space podcast, Morrison, 76, paid tribute to the late Friends star and shared his last memories of him before his death on Oct. 28, 2023.

Morrison, who married the late actor's mom, Suzanne, in 1981, noted that grieving has not been easy for the family, especially Perry's mother. 

"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," he told Kotb. "It's not easy, especially for his mom."

"Toward the end of his life, they were closer than I've seen them for decades," Morrison said of Perry's relationship with his mother. "Texting each other constantly and sharing things with her that most middle-aged men don't share with their mothers."

Matthew Perry with his sister, Emily Morrison, and his mother, Suzanne. - Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Perry, who was open about his experiences with alcoholism and substance misuse, died at age 54 from the "acute effects" of ketamine, the Los Angeles County medical examiner's office said in an autopsy report released in December 2023. Contributing factors were drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine. 

Morrison was listed as the informant on the certificate, meaning the Dateline host was the one who identified Perry to authorities. "It was the news you never want to get, but you think someday you might," Morrison said when asked if news of his death surprised him. "Yes and no, I guess is the answer to that."

Keith Morrison - Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images

"He felt like he was beating it," Morrison said of Perry's battle with alcohol and drug addiction. "But you never beat it, and he knew that, too."

Reflecting on Perry's mindset before his death, Morrison recalled that the Fools Rush In star was "happy, and he said so."

"And he hadn't said that for a long time," Morrison added. "So it's a source of comfort, but also he didn't get to have his third act, and that's not fair."

Morrison went on to call Perry "a larger-than-life person," saying he was "always the center of attention everywhere he went."

"That's gone, but you still feel the echo of it everywhere," Morrison said.

"He had that kind of very fiery personality, and mine is not like that, as you can imagine," Morrison continued. "But we got along fine. I never tried to replace his dad [John Bennett Perry]... but I was there for him, and he knew it, and we were close. 

Since Perry's death, his estate announced the formation of the Matthew Perry Foundation, a charity devoted to helping those struggling with substance abuse. In a statement shared with ET, officials said that the organization will follow in Perry's footsteps and continue his life's mission of helping others dealing with addiction, which he said was "paramount" to him before his death. 

"The Matthew Perry Foundation is the realization of Matthew's enduring commitment to helping others struggling with the disease of addiction," the statement read. "It will honor his legacy and be guided by his own words and experiences and driven by his passion for making a difference in as many lives as possible."

More recently, in legal documents obtained by ET, it was revealed that the late Friends star left over $1 million in assets in a living trust prior to his death. The trust is called "The Alvy Singer Living Trust," named after the character Woody Allen plays in his 1977 film, Annie Hall.

Beneficiaries of the trust include Perry's parents, his half-sister, Caitlin Morrison, and a non-blood-related beneficiary named Rachel Dunn.