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Frank Morgan
Morgan in trailer TV series Broadway to Hollywood (1933)
Francis Phillip Wuppermann

(1890-06-01)June 1, 1890
DiedSeptember 18, 1949(1949-09-18) (aged 59)
Resting placeGreen-Wood Cemetery
Other names
  • Frank Wupperman
  • Francis Morgan
Alma materCornell University
  • Actor
  • stage performer
Years active1916–1949
Alma Muller
(m. 1914)
FamilyRalph Morgan (elder brother)
Claudia Morgan (niece)

Francis Phillip Wuppermann (June 1, 1890 – September 18, 1949), known professionally as Frank Morgan, was an American character actor. He was best known for his appearances in films starting in the silent era in 1916, and then numerous sound films throughout the 1930s and 1940s, with a career spanning 35 years[1] mostly as a contract player at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with his most celebrated performance playing the title role of The Wizard in the MGM movie The Wizard of Oz (1939). He was also briefly billed early in his career as Frank Wupperman and Francis Morgan.

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Early life

Morgan was born on June 1, 1890, in New York City, to Josephine Wright (née Hancox) and George Diogracia Wuppermann. He was the youngest of 11 children and had five brothers and five sisters. The elder Mr. Wuppermann was born in Venezuela but was brought up in Hamburg, Germany, and was of German and Spanish ancestry.[2][3][4] His mother was born in the United States, of English ancestry. His brother Ralph Morgan was also an actor of stage and screen. The family earned their wealth distributing Angostura bitters, allowing Wuppermann to attend Cornell University, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and the Glee Club.[5][6]



Morgan and Madge Kennedy in the silent film Baby Mine (1917)

Morgan debuted in film The Suspect in 1916 and the following year he starred with John Barrymore in Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1917), an independent film produced in and about New York City. His career expanded when talkies began. Although the befuddled but good-hearted middle-aged man became his stereotypical role, he played romantic leads in such films as When Ladies Meet (1933) and Enchanted April (1935). By the mid-1930s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was so impressed by Morgan that they signed him to a lifetime contract.[citation needed] In 1936 Morgan played alongside Shirley Temple as Professor Appleby in Dimples.

Morgan in the 1940s

Morgan is best remembered for his performance in The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which picture he played a total of six roles, most notably the Wizard, which included the carnival huckster "Professor Marvel", the gatekeeper at the Emerald City, the coachman of the carriage drawn by "The Horse of a Different Color", the Emerald City guard (who initially refuses to let Dorothy and her friends in to see the Wizard), and the Wizard's scary face projection. Morgan was cast in the role on September 22, 1938. W. C. Fields was originally chosen for the part of the Wizard, but the studio ran out of patience after protracted haggling over his fee.

An actor with a wide range, Morgan was equally effective playing comical, befuddled men such as Jesse Kiffmeyer in Saratoga (1937) and Mr. Ferris in Casanova Brown (1944), as he was with more serious, troubled characters like Hugo Matuschek in The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Professor Roth in The Mortal Storm (1940) and Willie Grogan in The Human Comedy (1943). MGM's musical comedy film The Great Morgan (1946), is a compilation film featuring Frank Morgan supposedly as himself but playing the familiar bumbler. Occasionally a co-star (as in The Human Comedy, and, once established, invariably a featured player), he also saw the occasional lead deep in his Hollywood career, as the philanthropic tycoon falsely accused of murder in 1941's Washington Melodrama and The Great Morgan (in which he is the Morgan of the title, the picture's central player).

During the 1940s Morgan appeared in such diverse genres and roles as an oil wildcatter in Boom Town (supporting Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Claudette Colbert); Tortilla Flat in 1942 (based on the John Steinbeck book, again supporting Tracy); a jungle doctor in White Cargo (supporting Walter Pidgeon and Hedy Lamarr); a shepherd in the Courage of Lassie in 1946; a doctor again in Green Dolphin Street in 1948 in support of Lana Turner, Van Heflin, and Donna Reed; King Louis XIII in The Three Musketeers in 1948, supporting Gene Kelly and Turner again; and as Jimmy Stewart’s boss in The Stratton Story in 1949. He played a fire chief in his final picture, Key to the City, filmed in 1949 but released posthumously in 1950.


Morgan also had a career in radio. In the 1940s, Morgan co-starred with Fanny Brice in one version (of several different series) of the radio program Maxwell House Coffee Time, aka The Frank Morgan-Fanny Brice Show. During the first half of the show Morgan would tell increasingly outlandish tall tales about his life adventures, much to the dismay of his fellow cast members. After the Morgan segment there was a song, followed by Brice as 'Baby Snooks' for the last half of the show. When Brice left to star in her own program in 1944, Morgan continued solo for a year with The Frank Morgan Show.[7] In 1947, Morgan starred as the title character in the radio series The Fabulous Dr. Tweedy. He also recorded a number of children's records, including the popular Gossamer Wump, released in 1949 by Capitol Records.

Personal life and death

Morgan married Alma Muller in 1914; they had one son, George. They were married until Frank's death in 1949. Morgan was widely known to be an alcoholic, according to several people who worked with him, including Margaret Hamilton and Aljean Harmetz. Morgan sometimes carried a black briefcase to work, fully equipped with a small mini-bar.[4]

Morgan's niece Claudia Morgan (née Wuppermann) was a stage and film actress, and his brother was playwright Carlos Wuppermann.[8]

Morgan died of a heart attack on September 18, 1949, shortly after filming of Annie Get Your Gun had begun. He was replaced in the role of Buffalo Bill by Louis Calhern.[9] Morgan is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. His tombstone carries his real name, Wuppermann, as well as his stage name.

Awards and honors

Morgan was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Actor in The Affairs of Cellini (1934) and one for Best Supporting Actor in Tortilla Flat (1942). He has two stars dedicated to him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California: one for his films at 1708 Vine Street and one for his work in radio at 6700 Hollywood Boulevard. Both were dedicated on February 8, 1960.


Year Title Role Notes
1916 The Suspect Sir Richard Film debut, as Frank Wupperman
Lost film
The Daring of Diana John Briscoe As Francis Morgan
Lost film
The Girl Philippa Halkett As Francis Morgan
Lost film
1917 A Modern Cinderella Tom Lost film
A Child of the Wild Frank Trent Lost film
The Light in Darkness Ramsey Latham
Baby Mine Alfred
Who's Your Neighbor? Dudley Carlton Lost film
Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman Bunny Manders
1918 The Knife Dr. Robert Manning Lost film
At the Mercy of Men Count Nicho Lost film
The Gray Towers Mystery Billy Durland Lost film
1919 The Golden Shower Lester Lost film
1924 Manhandled Arno Riccardi
Born Rich Eugene Magnin
1925 The Crowded Hour Bert Caswell Lost film
The Man Who Found Himself Lon Morris Lost film
Scarlet Saint Baron Badeau Lost film
1927 Love's Greatest Mistake William Ogden Lost film
1930 Belle of the Night Short
Dangerous Nan McGrew Muldoon
Queen High Mr. Nettleton
Laughter C. Mortimer Gibson
Fast and Loose Bronson Lenox
1932 Secrets of the French Police François St. Cyr
The Half-Naked Truth Merle Farrell
1933 The Billion Dollar Scandal John Dudley Masterson
Luxury Liner Alex Stevenson
Hallelujah, I'm a Bum Mayor John Hastings
Reunion in Vienna Dr. Anton Krug
The Kiss Before the Mirror Paul Held
The Nuisance Dr. Buchanan Prescott
Best of Enemies William Hartman
When Ladies Meet Rogers Woodruf
Broadway to Hollywood Ted Hackett
Bombshell Pops Burns
1934 The Cat and the Fiddle Daudet
Success at Any Price Merritt
Sisters Under the Skin John Hunter Yates
The Affairs of Cellini Alessandro – Duke of Florence Academy Award nomination - Best Actor
A Lost Lady Forrester
There's Always Tomorrow Joseph White
By Your Leave Henry Smith
The Mighty Barnum Joe Uncredited
1935 The Good Fairy Konrad
Enchanted April Mellersh Wilkins
Naughty Marietta Governor d'Annard
Escapade Karl
I Live My Life G.P. Bentley
The Perfect Gentleman Major Horatio Chatteris
1936 The Great Ziegfeld Jack Billings
Dancing Pirate Mayor Don Emilio Perena
Trouble for Two Colonel Geraldine
Piccadilly Jim James Crocker – Sr./Count Olav Osric
Dimples Prof. Eustace Appleby
1937 The Last of Mrs. Cheyney Lord Kelton
The Emperor's Candlesticks Col. Baron Suroff
Saratoga Jesse Kiffmeyer
Sunday Night at the Trocadero Himself Short
Beg, Borrow or Steal Ingraham Steward
Rosalie King
1938 Paradise for Three Rudolph Tobler
Port of Seven Seas Panisse
The Crowd Roars Brian McCoy
Sweethearts Felix Lehman
1939 Broadway Serenade Cornelius Collier, Jr.
The Wizard of Oz The Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel/The Gatekeeper/The Carriage Driver/The Guard
Henry Goes Arizona Henry Conroy
Balalaika Ivan Danchenoff
1940 The Shop Around the Corner Hugo Matuschek
Broadway Melody of 1940 Bob Casey
The Ghost Comes Home Vern Adams
The Mortal Storm Professor Viktor Roth
Boom Town Luther Aldrich
Hullabaloo Frankie Merriweather
Keeping Company Harry C. Thomas
1941 The Wild Man of Borneo J. Daniel Thompson
Washington Melodrama Calvin Claymore
Honky Tonk Judge Cotton
1942 The Vanishing Virginian Robert Yancey
Tortilla Flat The Pirate Academy Award nomination - Best Supporting Actor
White Cargo The Doctor
1943 The Human Comedy Willie Grogan
A Stranger in Town John Josephus Grant
Thousands Cheer Dr. Frank Morgan
1944 The White Cliffs of Dover Hiram Porter Dunn
Kismet Narrator Voice, Uncredited
Casanova Brown Mr. Ferris
1945 Yolanda and the Thief Victor Budlow Trout
1946 Courage of Lassie Harry MacBain
The Cockeyed Miracle Sam Griggs
Lady Luck William Audrey
The Great Morgan Himself
1947 Green Dolphin Street Dr. Edmond Ozanne
1948 Summer Holiday Uncle Sid
The Three Musketeers King Louis XIII
1949 The Stratton Story Barney Wile
The Great Sinner Aristide Pitard
Any Number Can Play Jim Kurstyn
1950 Key to the City Fire Chief Duggan Final film

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1937 Amos & Andy Amos and Andy with Frank Morgan
1940 Screen Guild Players The Shop Around the Corner[10]
1941 Art Museum January 9, 1941
1942 Pat O'Brien April 23, 1942
1942 Command Performances October 27, 1942
1942 The Pied Piper December 21, 1942
1943 Nothing But The Truth May 3, 1943
1943 The Human Comedy July 12, 1943
1943 Holy Matrimoney December 13, 1943
1944 Wallpapering September 23, 1944
1944 The Frank Morgan Show NBC 8/31/1944 - 5/31/1945
1945 The Devil and Miss Jones March 12, 1945
1945 Birdseye Open House September 13, 1945 host Dinah Shore
1945 Huckleberry Finn October 14, 1945
1945 Names On The Land December 24, 1945
1946 The Bickersons Epioodes : 60
1947 The Fabulous Dr. Tweedy 5 episodes
1948 The Jimmy Durante Show January 14, 1948
1949 Kraft Music Hall 35 episodes

See also


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, September 21, 1949, page 63.
  2. ^ White, James Terry, ed. (1967). Frank Morgan Wuppermann. University Microfilms. p. 26. Retrieved April 10, 2020. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  3. ^ New England Vintage Film Inc Society (December 1, 2010). Playbills to Photoplays. Xlibris Corporation. pp. 488–523. ISBN 978-1453587751. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Frank Morgan". Hollywood's Irish Mafia. Archived from the original on August 5, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  5. ^ Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity (Twelfth ed.). Bernard C. Harris. 1985. p. 377.
  6. ^ Slon, Michael (January 1, 1998). Songs from the Hill: A History of the Cornell University Glee Club. Cornell University Glee Club. ISBN 978-0962010316.
  7. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 259–260. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  8. ^ "The Triumph of X". Internet Broadway Database.
  9. ^ "Frank Morgan, Local Property Owner, Dies". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs, Calif. September 20, 1949. p. 8 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  10. ^ "Those Were The Days". Nostalgia Digest. Vol. 41, no. 3. Summer 2015. pp. 32–39.

Further reading

  • Alistair, Rupert (2018). "Frank Morgan". The Name Below the Title: 65 Classic Movie Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age (First ed.). Great Britain: Independently published. pp. 180–184. ISBN 978-1-7200-3837-5.

External links

This page was last edited on 24 November 2023, at 10:50
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