Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Born Today June 1: Frank Morgan


Francis Philip Wupperman was born in New York City; the youngest of 11 children.  The family was in the bitters business; they were under contract to sell the still popular Angostura Bitters from Trinidad & Tobago, earning the family a small fortune.  This allowed for paid education for the children, and Francis attended Cornell University. While there, his older brother Ralph went into show business, so upon his graduation Francis followed him.  He first debuted on the Broadway stage, and then quickly went on to make appearances in films.  His first film was The Suspect (1916), a drama romance that was based on a play (it now on the lost film roster), he is credited as "Frank Wupperman."  Taking another cue from his older brother Ralph, he then changed his last name to "Morgan." From this film in 1916 up through the year 1919, he had steady work in film.  He then had a five year hiatus from film work, returning in 1924 with an appearance in Manhandled.  After this, he had only a few roles in films for the remainer of the 1920's; being primarily a live stage performer, he found silent film work tedious.  By 1930, early talkies had pretty much taken over all silent film in the U.S., and Frank Morgan finally found himself in his element on film.  He then became a kind of work-a-holic.  Morgan is, by far and away, most famous for his role(s) in The Wizard Of Oz, most notably, The Wizard, in 1939. He continued to act in films right up until his untimely death, with his last film appearance in A Key To The City (1950) being released posthumously. He died suddenly of a heart attack while filming Annie Get Your Gun (1950) on the 18th of September 1949.  He is interred in the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY.  In 1956, The Wizard Of Oz premiered on television; at the time, he was the only cast member not to live long enough to see the huge revival of the film's popularity.

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