Dennis Morgan

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For other people of the same name, see: Dennis Morgan (disambiguation)
Dennis Morgan
Dennis Morgan in The Hard Way trailer 2.jpg
in the trailer for the film
The Hard Way (1943)
Born Earl Stanley Morner
(1908-12-20)December 20, 1908
Prentice, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died September 7, 1994(1994-09-07) (aged 85)
Fresno, California, U.S.
Years active 1936-1980
Spouse(s) Lillian Vedder (1933-1994, his death)
Children Stanley Morner
Kristin Morgan
James Morner
Parent(s) Frank Edward Morner
Grace J. Vandusen Morner

Dennis Morgan (December 20, 1908 – September 7, 1994) was an American actor-singer. Born as Earl Stanley Morner, he used the acting pseudonym Richard Stanley before adopting the name under which he gained his greatest fame.

Life and career[edit]

Morgan was born Earl Stanley Morner in the village of Prentice in Price County in northern Wisconsin, the son of Grace J. (née Vandusen) and Frank Edward Morner.[1] He was of Swedish descent on his father's side.[2]

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.[3]

After relocating to Los Angeles, California, Morgan starred in the wartime dramas, God Is My Co-Pilot and Captains of the Clouds, opposite Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle and Perfect Strangers, the comedy Christmas in Connecticut, with Barbara Stanwyck and Sydney Greenstreet, and the musical adventure, The Desert Song.

Morgan was a top leading man at Warner Brothers in the 1940s, starring with best friend Jack Carson in many movies, several of which were "two guys" buddy pictures. His peak years were 1943 to 1949.

Jean Willes and Morgan (1955)

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. He was cast as Dennis O'Finn in the 1958 episode "Bull in a China Shop" on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1959, Morgan appeared as a regular, Dennis Chase, in eleven episodes of the crime drama, 21 Beacon Street, with Joanna Barnes and Brian Kelly.[4]

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. In 1968, was cast as Dennis Roberts in the episode "Bye, Bye, Doctor" of the CBS sitcom, Petticoat Junction, and 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.[4]

In 1983, Dennis Morgan, along with his film pal, Jack Carson, who had died in 1963, was inducted into the Wisconsin Performing Artists Hall of Fame.[5]

Morgan died in 1994 of respiratory failure.

Charity work: Two Strike Park[edit]

Dennis Morgan dedicated "Two Strike Park" on July 4, 1959, named for his belief that "a kid with no place to play already has two strikes against him".[6]

From 1946, Dennis Morgan had championed the cause for children with nowhere to play[7] 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."[7] 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 on Rosemont Avenue, by "organizing exhibition baseball games featuring celebrity friends and professional athletes".[8]


Morgan (billed as "Stanley Morner") appeared as the singing bridegroom in the famous "Wedding Cake" musical number in The Great Ziegfeld (1936), but the voice singing "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" was that of M-G-M contract player Allan Jones.[9]


Morgan was billed under his given name "Stanley Morner" early in his career, such as in Mama Steps Out (1937)

Short Subjects:

  • Annie Laurie (1936)
  • Ride, Cowboy, Ride (1939)
  • The Singing Dude (1940)
  • March On, Marines (1940)
  • Stars on Horseback (1943)
  • The Shining Future (1944)
  • I Am an American (1944)[10]
  • Road to Victory (1944)
  • Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Goes to Bat (1950)

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1951 The Martin and Lewis Show The case of the battled bird watcher
1953 Lux Radio Theatre This Woman Is Dangerous[11]


  1. ^ The Searcher. 35-36. Southern California Genealogical Society. 1998. p. 283. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  2. ^ Lamparinski, Richard (1982). Whatever Became Of... Crown Publishers. p. 283. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  3. ^ Carroll University, "Distinguished Alumni Awards, Stanley Morner '30", retrieved 2014-12-29 
  4. ^ a b "Dennis Morgan". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Hall of Fame a gala premiere". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Let's Go section, Page 2. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  6. ^ Shelton, Charly (5 September 2008). "An evening with Dennis Morgan". Glendale News-Press. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  7. ^ a b Two Strikes Park, programme for Memorial Day, 2012. Accessed 15 March 2015. Gives the history of the park.
  8. ^ Mike Lawler and Robert Newcombe, Images of America: la Crescenta (Charleston, Chicago, Portsmouth NH, San Francisco: Arcadia, 2005), p. 105
  9. ^ The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Notes, from Turner Classic Movies.
  10. ^ 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 at the Internet Movie Database.
  11. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read

External links[edit]