The actor best known as the Wizard from the movie Wizard of Oz was born today in 1890. Now WE know em

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Francis Phillip Wuppermann was born June 1, 1890 in New York City as the youngest of eleven children.

His father was born in Venezuela, of German and Spanish descent, and was raised in Hamburg, Germany. His mother was born in the United States of English descent.

He attended Cornell University and joined Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

After college, he followed his older brother Ralph into show business. His brother was known as Ralph Morgan, so he changed his name to Frank Morgan.

Frank began acting on the Broadway stage, then performing in motion pictures

His first film was The Suspect in 1916. Then in 1917, Frank provided support to his friend John Barrymore in Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, an independent film produced in and about New York City. Frank’s career expanded when talkies began, his most stereotypical role being that of a befuddled but good hearted middle-aged man.

Frank Morgan was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1934’s film The Affairs of Cellini, where he played the cuckolded Duke of Florence.

By the mid-1930s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had been so impressed by Frank Morgan that they signed him to a lifetime contract.

 The Wizard of Oz

Frank Morgan’s most famous performance was in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, in which he played five separate characters;

 

dorothy-and-toto-come-upon-professor-marvel

Carnival huckster “Professor Marvel” with a horse named Sylvester

 

Gatekeeper of the Emerald City

Gatekeeper of the Emerald City

 

coachman of the carriage drawn by "The Horse of a Different Color"

coachman of the carriage drawn by “The Horse of a Different Color”

 

Doorman leading to the Wizard's hall

Doorman leading to the Wizard’s hall

 

The apparition of the Wizard as a monstrous disembodied Head

The apparition of the Wizard as a monstrous disembodied Head

and the Wizard of Oz himself.

Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel aka the Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland as Dorthey Gale in the Wizard of Oz

W. C. Fields was originally chosen for the role of the Wizard, but the studio ran out of patience after protracted haggling over his fee.

Frank was then cast for the role on September 22, 1938.

WizardBallon

Three years later, Frank Morgan was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the 1942 film Tortilla Flat.

During World War II Frank costarred with Fanny Brice on radio for the Maxwell House Coffee Time, known as The Frank Morgan-Fanny Brice Show.

During the first half of the show Frank would tell increasingly outlandish tall tales about his life adventures much to the dismay of fellow cast members.

After the Frank Morgan segment there was a song followed by Fanny Brice as ‘Baby Snooks’ for the last half of the show.

Then in 1947, Frank starred as the title character for 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 character actors of the studio era, Frank Morgan was sought out for numerous roles in many motion pictures.

One of his last roles was as Barney Wile in The Stratton Story, a true story about a ballplayer (played by James Stewart) who makes a comeback after having his leg amputated due to a hunting accident.

Frank Morgan died of a heart attack on September 18, 1949, while filming Annie Get Your Gun (replaced by Louis Calhern).

His last film Key to the City was released posthumously in 1950. In it Morgan played Fire Chief Duggan.

Frank Morgan was the one major player from The Wizard of Oz who did not live to see the film become both a television fixture and an American institution.

He is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

His tombstone carries his real name, Wuppermann, as well as his stage name, Frank Morgan.

He has 2 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures at 1708 Vine Street and for radio at 6700 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

Now WE know em

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