Raphael Kuhner Wuppermann
July 6, 1883
New York City, U.S.
|Died||June 11, 1956 (aged 72)|
New York City, U.S.
|Spouse||Grace Arnold (born Georgiana Louise Iverson)|
|Relatives||Frank Morgan (brother)|
|1st and 4th President of the Screen Actors Guild|
|Preceded by||Robert Montgomery|
|Succeeded by||Edward Arnold|
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Eddie Cantor|
|Acting President of the Actors' Equity Association|
June 17, 1924 – August 12, 1924
|Preceded by||John Emerson|
|Succeeded by||John Emerson|
Raphael Kuhner Wuppermann (July 6, 1883 – June 11, 1956), known professionally as Ralph Morgan, was a Hollywood stage and film character actor, and the older brother of Frank Morgan.
Morgan was born in New York City, the eighth of eleven children of Josephine Wright (née Hancox) and George Diogracia Wuppermann. His mother was a Mayflower descendant. His father, George Wuppermann, was of Spanish and German lineage. Born in Venezuela and raised in Germany, he later immigrated to the United States. He had made a fortune by distributing Angostura bitters, allowing him to send all of his children to universities.
Morgan attended Trinity School, Riverview Military Academy and graduated from Columbia University with a law degree. However, after almost two years' practicing, he abandoned the world of jurisprudence for the vocation of journeyman actor, having already appeared in Columbia's annual Varsity Show. In 1905, billed as Raphael Kuhner Wupperman, he appeared in The Khan of Kathan, that year's variety show.
Morgan became so successful in stock and on Broadway that his younger brother, Frank, was encouraged to give acting a try, using the same surname as Ralph for his stage name. His career would eventually overshadow that of Ralph.
His first role on the stage came in The Bachelor in 1909 and played John Marvin in the 1918 hit play, Lightnin' . Morgan made his debut in silent films in 1915, appearing in several productions made on the East Coast. In the early talkie era, he played such leading roles in such productions as Strange Interlude in 1932 and Rasputin and the Empress also in 1932.
"I have great faith in the sense of justice inherent in my fellow player. I believe he wants to and will fight to correct any injustice so long as he feels confident that this fight will be waged cleanly and in keeping with the high calling of his profession."
Ralph Morgan on the Screen Actors Guild and the professional etiquette between fellow thespians
He later settled into secondary, sometimes uncredited, character parts. One of his memorable roles was in the 1942 serial Gang Busters, in which he played a brilliant surgeon turned master criminal. Morgan later worked in both radio and television, frequently in religious dramas filmed for Family Theater.
Among his off-camera activities, he, alongside Grant Mitchell, Berton Churchill, Charles Miller, Alden Gay, and Kenneth Thomson, formed the Screen Actors Guild to resolve and stop most of the injustice that actors faced within the industry (among which, were prolonged work hours enforced by the studios and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' membership policy, which was exclusively by invitation).
He was also a founder, charter member, and the first president of SAG in 1933, and he was elected to two additional one-year terms in 1938 and 1939, serving until 1940.
Morgan has a star in the Motion Pictures section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1617 Vine Street. It was dedicated February 8, 1960.
Ralph Morgan was married to Georgiana Louise Iverson, who as a stage actress was known as Grace Arnold, although he called her "Daisy" and was the father of Claudia Morgan (born Claudia Louise Wuppermann; 1911–1974), an actress best known for creating the role of Vera Claythorne on Broadway in the original production of Ten Little Indians, and for her portrayal of Nora Charles on the radio series The Thin Man.
Morgan died on June 11, 1956, of a lung ailment. He was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.