in the trailer for the film
The Hard Way (1943)
Earl Stanley Morner
December 20, 1908
Prentice, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||September 7, 1994 (aged 85)|
Fresno, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Marshfield High School Carroll College|
Dennis Morgan (born Earl Stanley Morner, December 20, 1908 – September 7, 1994) was an American actor-singer. He used the acting pseudonym Richard Stanley before adopting the name under which he gained his greatest fame.
According to one obituary, he was "a twinkly-eyed handsome charmer with a shy smile and a pleasant tenor voice in carefree and inconsequential Warner Bros musicals of the forties, accompanied by Jack Carson." Another said, "for all his undoubted star potential, Morgan was perhaps cast once too often as the likeable, clean-cut, easy-going but essentially uncharismatic young man who typically loses his girl to someone more sexually magnetic." David Shipman said he "was comfortable, good-looking, well-mannered: the antithesis of the gritty Bogart."
Life and career
He enrolled at Carroll College, now known as Carroll University, in Waukesha, Wisconsin as a member of the 1930 graduating class. He was awarded the Carroll College Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1983.
He began his career as a radio announcer in Milwaukee and went on to broadcast Green Bay Packers football games. He became a radio singer in Chicago.
Stanley Morner at MGM
After relocating to Los Angeles, Morgan began appearing in films. He signed a contract with MGM as "Stanley Morner".
Unbilled, he sang the Irving Berlin song, A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody, in The Great Ziegfeld (1936).
Richard Stanley at Paramount
He went over to Warner Bros who billed him as "Dennis Morgan". According to Shipman the studio "put him on the assembly-line with Wayne Morris, Arthur Kennedy, Jeffrey Lynn, Eddie Albert and Ronald Reagan – likeable young lugs squiring the heroine till Bogart, Cagney or Flynn came crashing down to sweep her up."
Morgan was promoted to "A" films with The Fighting 69th (1940), supporting James Cagney and Pat O'Brien. He supported Priscilla Lane in Three Cheers for the Irish (1940) and went back to "B"s for Tear Gas Squad (1940), Flight Angels (1940), and River's End (1940).
Warners put him in some comedies, Affectionately Yours (1941) and Kisses for Breakfast (1941), then a Western, Bad Men of Missouri (1941). He supported Cagney again in Captains of the Clouds (1942) and Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland in In This Our Life (1942).
Morgan co-starred with Ann Sheridan in Wings for the Eagle (1942) and Ida Lupino in The Hard Way (1943). He had the lead in some big Warners musicals: Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), full of cameos from Warner stars; The Desert Song (1943); Shine On, Harvest Moon (1944), with Sheridan. The latter also featured Jack Carson in a key role. He and Morgan were in The Hard Way together and would go on to be a notable team.
Teamed with Jack Carson
Morgan was teamed with fellow Wisconsinite Jack Carson in One More Tomorrow (1946). Warners liked them as a combination, seeing them as similar to Bing Crosby and Bob Hope at Paramount. In the words of Shipman, the films would feature "Morgan as the easy-going singer who always got the girl and Carson as the loud-mouthed but cowardly braggard-comic who was given the air. No one thought they were Hope and Crosby, least of all themselves."
He was back with Carson for Two Guys from Texas (1948) then made One Sunday Afternoon (1948) with Janis Paige. He and Carson were in It's a Great Feeling (1949) with Doris Day. Exhibitors voted him the 21st most popular star in the US for 1948.
Morgan made The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949) then Perfect Strangers (1950) with Rogers and Pretty Baby (1950) with Betsy Drake. He made a Western Raton Pass (1950), and a musical Painting the Clouds with Sunshine (1951). He supported Joan Crawford in This Woman Is Dangerous (1952) then went back to Westerns with Cattle Town (1952). After that his contract with Warners ended.
Morgan later said "my mistake was I stayed at one studio too long. Another mistake: I turned down early television, believing then... that people should pay to see us."
He appeared in sporadic television guest roles in the 1950s, including the ABC religion anthology series, Crossroads, in the 1955 episode "The Gambler" and as Senator designate Fairchild in an episode of the dramatic anthology series Stage 7, titled "Press Conference" in 1955.
Morgan made films for Sam Katzman, The Gun That Won the West (1955) and Uranium Boom (1956) and went to RKO for Pearl of the South Pacific (1956). He was cast as Dennis O'Finn in the 1958 episode "Bull in a China Shop" on Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
By 1956, he had retired from films but still made occasional appearances on television, such as the role of Chad Hamilton in the 1962 episode "Source of Information" of the short-lived NBC newspaper drama series, Saints and Sinners. In 1963, he portrayed Dr. Clay Maitland in "The Old Man and the City" on NBC's The Dick Powell Theater. He would perform with the Milwaukee Symphony and on the summer stage circuit.
He returned to films with Rogue's Gallery (1967).
In 1968 he was cast as Dennis Roberts in the episode "Bye, Bye, Doctor" of the CBS sitcom, Petticoat Junction, and he played a cameo as a Hollywood tour guide in the all-star comedy Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood in 1976. His final screen performance was on March 1, 1980, as Steve Brian in the episode "Another Time, Another Place/Doctor Who/Gopher's Engagement" of ABC's The Love Boat. Jane Wyman and Audrey Meadows appeared in the same episode.
That year he was critically injured in a car crash.
Morgan died in 1994 of respiratory failure.
Charity work: Two Strike Park
Dennis Morgan dedicated "Two Strike Park" on July 4, 1959, named for his belief that "a kid forced to play in the streets, with no place to play already has two strikes against him".
From 1946 Dennis Morgan had championed the cause for children with nowhere to play In 1949, as "honorary mayor" of La Crescenta, representing Two Strike Series, Inc., he "offered to donate five acres of land for the park if the County of Los Angeles would purchase two more adjoining acres to complete the initial parcel. In 1950, the Board of Supervisors responded with an additional 3.54 acres of parkland." In 1958 Morgan spearheaded the drive to establish a new public park in La Crescenta in Los Angeles County. He raised funds for the park, located at 5107 Rosemont Avenue, by "organizing exhibition baseball games featuring celebrity friends and professional athletes".
- I Conquer the Sea! (1936) as Tommy Ashley
- The Great Ziegfeld (1936) as Stage Singer in 'Pretty Girl' Number (uncredited)
- Suzy (1936) as Lieutenant
- Piccadilly Jim (1936) as Chrystal Club Singer (uncredited)
- Old Hutch (1936) as Passerby at Fishing Lake (uncredited)
- Mama Steps Out (1937) as Chuck Thompson
- Song of the City (1937) as Tommy
- Navy Blue and Gold (1937) as Marine 2nd Lt.
- Men with Wings (1938) as Galton
- King of Alcatraz (1938) as First Mate Rogers
- Illegal Traffic (1938) as Cagey Miller
- Persons in Hiding (1939) as Mike Flagler
- Waterfront (1939) as James 'Jim' Dolen
- No Place to Go (1939) as Joe Plummer
- The Return of Doctor X (1939) as Michael Rhodes
- The Fighting 69th (1940) as Lt. Ames
- Three Cheers for the Irish (1940) as Angus Ferguson
- Tear Gas Squad (1940) as Tommy McCabe
- Flight Angels (1940) as Chick Farber
- River's End (1940) as John Keith / Sgt. Derry Conniston
- Kitty Foyle (1940) as Wyn Strafford
- Affectionately Yours (1941) as Richard 'Rickey' Mayberry
- Kisses for Breakfast (1941) as Rodney Trask
- Bad Men of Missouri (1941) as Cole Younger
- Captains of the Clouds (1942) as Johnny Dutton
- In This Our Life (1942) as Peter Kingsmill
- Wings for the Eagle (1942) as Corky Jones
- The Hard Way (1943) as Paul Collins
- Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) as Tommy Randolph
- The Desert Song (1943) as Paul Hudson / El Khobar
- Shine On, Harvest Moon (1944) as Jack Norworth
- The Very Thought of You (1944) as Sgt. David Stewart
- Hollywood Canteen (1944) as Himself
- God Is My Co-Pilot (1945) as Col. Robert Lee Scott
- Christmas in Connecticut (1945) as Jefferson Jones
- One More Tomorrow (1946) as Thomas Rufus 'Tom' Collier III
- Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946) as Prince Henry
- The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946) as Steven Ross
- Cheyenne (1947) as James Wylie
- Always Together (1947) as The Bridegroom (uncredited)
- My Wild Irish Rose (1947) as Chauncey Olcott
- To the Victor (1948) as Paul Taggart
- Two Guys from Texas (1948) as Steve Carroll
- One Sunday Afternoon (1948) as Timothy L. 'Biff' Grimes
- It's a Great Feeling (1949) as Dennis Morgan
- The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949) as Bill Craig
- Perfect Strangers (1950) as David Campbell
- Pretty Baby (1950) as Sam Morley
- Raton Pass (1951) as Marc Challon
- Painting the Clouds with Sunshine (1951) as Vince Nichols
- This Woman Is Dangerous (1952) as Dr. Ben Halleck
- Cattle Town (1952) as Mike McGann
- Pearl of the South Pacific (1955) as Dan Merrill
- The Gun That Won the West (1955) as Jim Bridger
- Uranium Boom (1956) as Brad Collins
- Rogue's Gallery (1968) as Dr. Jonas Pettingill
- Busby Berkeley (1974) as Himself (documentary)
- Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) as Tour Guide
- Annie Laurie (1936) as William Douglas
- Ride, Cowboy, Ride (1939) as Dinny Logan
- The Singing Dude (1940) as Rusty
- March On, Marines (1940) as Bob Lansing
- Stars on Horseback (1943) as Himself (uncredited)
- The Shining Future (1944) as Himself
- Road to Victory (1944) as Himself (uncredited)
- I Am an American (1944) as Himself (uncredited)
- Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Goes to Bat (1950) as Himself
|1941||Lux Radio Theatre||Kitty Foyle|
|1942||Cavalcade of America||Captains of the Clouds|
|1943||Cavalcade of America||Soldiers of the Tide|
|1943||Screen Guild Theater||Thank Your Lucky Stars|
|1944||Lux Radio Theatre||The Vagabond King|
|1945||Lux Radio Theatre||Swanee River|
|1945||Screen Guild Theater||The Desert Song|
|1946||The Jack Carson Show||Christmas Gift for Jack|
|1947||Lux Radio Theatre||One More Tomorrow|
|1947||Family Theater||Top Man|
|1948||Screen Guild Theater||Cheyenne|
|1949||Screen Guild Theater||One Sunday Afternoon|
|1950||Lux Radio Theatre||The Lady Takes a Sailor|
|1950||Lux Radio Theatre||One Sunday Afternoon|
|1951||Family Theater||Shadow on the Mountain|
|1951||The Martin and Lewis Show||The case of the battled bird watcher|
|1953||Lux Radio Theatre||This Woman Is Dangerous|
|1953||Family Theater||20,000 Leagues Under the Sea|
- Too slick to play Rick Obituary:Dennis Morgan Bergan, Ronald. The Guardian 18 Oct 1994.
- "Dennis Morgan; ObituaryZwork=The Times". 16 Sep 1994.
- Shipman, David (10 Sep 1994). "Obituary: Dennis Morgan". The Independent (3 ed.).
- The Searcher. 35-36. Southern California Genealogical Society. 1998. p. 283. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- Lamparinski, Richard (1982). Whatever Became Of... Crown Publishers. p. 283. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- Carroll University, "Distinguished Alumni Awards, Stanley Morner '30", retrieved 2014-12-29
- "Dennis Morgan; Singer and Movie Actor". Los Angeles Times (Home ed.). Sep 9, 1994. p. 22.
- "The Life Story of DENNIS MORGAN". Picture Show. 45 (1153). London. May 31, 1941. p. 13.
- "Dennis Morgan Wins Singer-of-Year Honors". Los Angeles Times. Dec 20, 1947. p. A2.
- Schallert, Edwin (Dec 31, 1948). "Old Guard' Holds Fort With Crosby Leading Big Box-Office Survey". Los Angeles Times. p. 9.
- Scott, John L (Oct 16, 1967). "'RETIRED' NEARLY 10 YEARS: Dennis Morgan Back in Pictures DENNIS MORGAN BACK". Los Angeles Times. p. c1.
- "Dennis Morgan". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
- "Dennis Morgan Cast". Los Angeles Times. Sep 4, 1962. p. C17.
- "Actor Dennis Morgan Dies; Leading Man in the 1940s:". The Washington Post (FINAL ed.). Sep 9, 1994. p. b07.
- "Hall of Fame a gala premiere". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Let's Go section, page 2. Retrieved 2014-12-29.
- "Actor Dennis Morgan, 72, hurt in crash". Chicago Tribune. Jan 25, 1983. p. a5.
- Shelton, Charly (5 September 2008). "An evening with Dennis Morgan". Glendale News-Press. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- Two Strikes Park, programme for Memorial Day, 2012. Accessed 15 March 2015. Gives the history of the park.
- Mike Lawler and Robert Newcombe, Images of America: la Crescenta (Charleston, Chicago, Portsmouth NH, San Francisco: Arcadia, 2005), p. 105
- The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Notes, from Turner Classic Movies.
- The 16 minute film, I Am an American, was featured in American theaters as a short feature in connection with "I Am an American Day" (now called Constitution Day). I Am an American was produced by Gordon Hollingshead, written and directed by Crane Wilbur. Besides Morgan, it featured Humphrey Bogart, Gary Gray, Dick Haymes, Danny Kaye, Joan Leslie, Knute Rockne, and Jay Silverheels. See: I Am An American at the TCM Movie Database and I Am an American on IMDb.
- "Old Time Radio Catalogue". otrcat.com. Missing or empty
- "The Jack Carson Show". radiospirits.com. Missing or empty
- "Family Theater Episodes". oldtimeradiodownloads.com. Missing or empty
- "Screen Guild Theater". otrsite.com. Missing or empty
- "Lux Radio Theatre". archive.org. Missing or empty
- "Otrnetwork Library". otr.net. Missing or empty
- Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
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