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Matthew Perry was 'happy,' stepfather says as star's will goes public

A photo of Keith Morrison in a blue suit shirt and a black blazer. A photo of Matthew Perry smiling in thin-framed glasses
TV host Keith Morrison, left, says that it's a "source of comfort" knowing that his stepson Matthew Perry, right, was happy before his death. (Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press; Rich Fury / Invision / Associated Press)

For "Dateline" host Keith Morrison, the grief of losing his stepson and "Friends" star Matthew Perry last year is still raw.

"It doesn't go away. It's with you everyday, it's with you all the time," Morrison said in a recent conversation with journalist Hoda Kotb. "There's some new aspect of it that assaults your brain."

Morrison, 76, revealed how he has coped with Perry's death in a new episode of Kotb's "Making Space" podcast published Wednesday. The longtime TV host married the actor's mother, Suzanne, in 1981. Morrison was one of the loved ones who rushed to Perry's home in Los Angeles the night he died.

Read more: Full coverage: Matthew Perry dead at 54

Perry, who gained popularity for his time as the snarky Chandler Bing on "Friends," was found dead in a hot tub at his home on Oct. 28.. He was 54.

The Canadian comedic actor died from acute effects of ketamine, a drug sometimes used to treat depression. The Los Angeles County medical examiner determined in December that the ketamine caused cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression.

Additional factors in Perry's death included drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid use disorder. His death was ruled an accident.

Read more: Matthew Perry died from acute effects of ketamine, officials rule

Morrison shared that Perry and his mother had grown "closer than I'd seen them for decades," leading up to his death. He said the mother-son duo were in constant contact, texting and that the actor shared "things with [his mother] that most middle-aged men don't share with their mothers."

Before his death, Perry was vocal about his struggles with addiction and also open about his experiences with anxiety and depression. He said at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last April that writing his memoir “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing," helped in his recovery from his various afflictions.

Morrison assured Kotb, "he was happy."

He continued: "And he said so, and he hadn't said that for a long time. So that gives a source of comfort. But also, he didn't get to have his third act and that's not fair."

Keith Morrison walking under police tape ]
Keith Morrison crosses the police tape down the street from Matthew Perry's house in Pacific Palisades the night of the "Friends" actor's death last year. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Morrison's interview with Kotb published amid reports about Perry's will and his beneficiaries. The late actor's will says a majority of his belongings will be placed in a trust — titled the "Alvy Singer Living Trust," named after Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" character, according to People magazine.

Perry's birth parents — John Perry and Suzanne Morrison — are listed as beneficiaries alongside his half-sister Caitlin Morrison and ex-girlfriend Rachel Dunn. Perry's will reportedly says that any children he had would not be entitled to his estate. He had no children.

The actor reportedly also had more than $1 million in personal property at the time of his death, in addition to the living trust overseen by executors Lisa Ferguson and Robin Ruzan, People reported. Ruzan was an executive producer of the game show "Celebrity Liar," which featured Perry as a guest star.

Elsewhere in his interview with Kotb, Morrison remembered his stepson as a "larger-than-life person" who was a passionate tennis and hockey player growing up. In addition to reflecting on how he can "still feel the echo" of Perry's presence, Morrison reflected on the TV star's "whirlwind of a life."

Read more: Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox say individual goodbyes to 'Friends' co-star Matthew Perry

"To be fighting an addiction that was so virulent, that went after him so hard, and he gave into it frequently..." Morrison said. "He'd get to a certain point when he knew he needed to get treatment and accept help when he needed it."

He added, referencing Perry's memoir: "But as he said himself, 'it just kept happening' and it was a big bear. It was a tough thing to beat. Big terrible thing."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.