Francis Phillip Wuppermann
June 1, 1890
|Died||September 18, 1949 (aged 59)|
|Resting place||Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York|
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
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 mostly as a contract player at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with his most celebrated performance playing the title role in The Wizard of Oz (1939). He was also briefly billed early in his career as Frank Wupperman and Francis Morgan.
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. 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 and join Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and the Glee Club.
Morgan 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 and Enchanted April. By the mid-1930s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was so impressed by Morgan that they signed him to a lifetime contract. Morgan is best remembered for his performance in The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which he played the Wizard and five other roles: 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.
In 1936 Morgan played alongside Shirley Temple as Professor Appleby in Dimples. 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. 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. Like most popular character actors of the studio era, Morgan was sought after for numerous supporting roles. He played Barney Wile in The Stratton Story (1949), which follows a baseball player (James Stewart) who makes a comeback after losing his leg to a hunting accident. His final film, Key to the City (1950), was released posthumously.
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.
Morgan died of a heart attack on September 18, 1949, while filming Annie Get Your Gun. He was replaced in the part of Buffalo Bill by Louis Calhern. His death came before the 1956 premiere televised broadcast on CBS of The Wizard of Oz, which made him the only major cast member from the film who did not live to see the film's revived popularity and how it would become an annual American television institution. 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.
|1916||The Suspect||Sir Richard||Film debut, as Frank Wupperman|
|The Daring of Diana||John Briscoe||As Francis Morgan|
|The Girl Philippa||Halkett||As Francis Morgan|
|1917||A Modern Cinderella||Tom|
|A Child of the Wild||Frank Trent|
|The Light in Darkness||Ramsey Latham|
|Who's Your Neighbor?||Dudley Carlton|
|Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman||Bunny Manders|
|1918||The Knife||Dr. Robert Manning|
|At the Mercy of Men||Count Nicho|
|The Gray Towers Mystery||Billy Durland|
|1919||The Golden Shower||Lester|
|Born Rich||Eugene Magnin|
|1925||The Crowded Hour||Bert Caswell|
|The Man Who Found Himself||Lon Morris|
|Scarlet Saint||Baron Badeau|
|1927||Love's Greatest Mistake||William Ogden|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Sunday Night at the Trocadero||Himself||Short|
|Beg, Borrow or Steal||Ingraham Steward|
|1938||Paradise for Three||Rudolph Tobler|
|Port of Seven Seas||Panisse|
|The Crowd Roars||Brian McCoy|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|1940||Screen Guild Players||The Shop Around the Corner|
- Obituary Variety, September 21, 1949, page 63.
- White, James Terry, ed. (1967). Frank Morgan Wuppermann. The National cyclopaedia of American biography. University Microfilms. p. 26. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
- New England Vintage Film Inc Society (December 1, 2010). Playbills to Photoplays. pp. 488–523. ISBN 978-1453587751. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
- "Frank Morgan". Hollywood's Irish Mafia. Archived from the original on 5 August 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity (Twelfth ed.). Bernard C. Harris. 1985. p. 377.
- Slon, Michael (January 1, 1998). Songs from the Hill: A History of the Cornell University Glee Club. Cornell University Glee Club. ISBN 978-0962010316.
- Dunning, John (1998). The Frank Morgan Show, comedy-variety. On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 259–260. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
- "The Triumph of X". Internet Broadway Database.
- "Frank Morgan, Local Property Owner, Dies". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs, Calif. September 20, 1949. p. 8 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
- Fuhrmann, Doug. "Pop Culture History: Wizard of Oz televised (1950s)". The Daily Journal. Vineland, NJ. Archived from the original on August 24, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
- "Those Were The Days". Nostalgia Digest. 41 (3): 32–39. Summer 2015.
- 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.
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