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Francis Phillip Wuppermann
June 1, 1890
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 18, 1949
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Resting place||Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York|
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
|Spouse(s)||Alma Muller (m. 1914–49) (his death)|
|Children||George Morgan (1916–2003)|
Francis Phillip Wuppermann (June 1, 1890 – September 18, 1949), known by his stage name of Frank Morgan, was an American character actor. He is best known as a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player and as the title character in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Morgan was born Francis Phillip Wuppermann in New York City, the youngest of eleven children (six boys and five girls) born to Josephine Wright (née Hancox) and George Diogracia Wuppermann. His father was born in Venezuela, of German and Spanish ancestry, and was raised in Hamburg, Germany. His mother was born in the United States, of English ancestry. The family earned its wealth distributing Angostura bitters, allowing Wuppermann to attend Cornell University where he joined Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. He then followed his older brother Ralph Morgan into show business, first on the Broadway stage and into motion pictures.
After his film debut The Suspect (1916), he provided support to his friend John Barrymore in Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (1917), an independent film produced in and about New York City. Morgan's career expanded when talkies began, his most stereotypical role being that of a befuddled but good hearted middle-aged man.
By the mid-1930s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had been so impressed by Morgan that they signed him to a lifetime contract. Morgan's best remembered film performance, playing five roles, is in The Wizard of Oz (1939), where he played 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 Guard who initially refuses to let Dorothy and her friends in to see the Wizard, and the Wizard himself. Morgan was cast in the role on September 22, 1938. 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. An actor with a wide range, he 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) and Professor Roth in The Mortal Storm (1940). MGM's 1946 film The Great Morgan was written with the story centering on Frank Morgan.
|1940||Screen Guild Players||The Shop Around the Corner|
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