Ralph Morgan

Ralph Morgan

Ralph Morgan
"Twas a mighty long baby name Rev. Randolph McKim wrote into the baptism registry that summer Sunday in 1883: Raphael Kühner Wuppermann. The 8th of 11 children born to an American mother of Mayflower descent, and a Venezuelan-born German-Spanish father,"Raphael" so loved performing that, a few years after graduating Columbia University (where he appeared in its Varsity Shows), and amateur work with the New York Comedy Club, he left his law practice for the stage in 1908, taking the more "marquee-friendly" name "Ralph Morgan." 1915: play A Full House w/Claiborne FosterBut with theatrical success, his shocked, affluent parents (distributors of Dr. Siegert's Angostura Bitters) "forgave" his career choice, and two younger brothers followed him onto the stage: Carlos Wuppermann, who would meet a violent death in 1919, and Frank Morgan, the future "Wizard of OZ." In 1910, at age 26, Ralph expressed outrage against actor mistreatment (hint of the future!) in a dynamic letter to then-fiancée, actress Grace Arnold (with whom he would have actress-daughter, Claudia Morgan).

1917: Silent FilmRalph joined Actors' Equity in 1914, while in the hit comedy "Under Cover" (brother Carlos replaced him in the production in 1915) and was active, with brother Frank, in Equity's 1919 strike. In 1920, he was elected to Equity's council, and briefly served as its acting President in 1924. After 23 years on stage, a half-dozen silent films, and a few "talkies," he came to Hollywood in 1931 under contract to Fox Films beginning at $500 a week, and was still a Fox contract player when the Guild was founded in 1933. Ralph's later two terms as President, 1938-40, were largely concerned with issues of extras, and enacting the first Agency Regulations, but he also successfully fought a second attempt of IATSE President, George Browne and his "personal representative" in Hollywood, Willie Bioff (from Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti's Chicago mob), to take over the jurisdiction of ALL actor unions.

1933: Fox FilmTrick for TrickAn idealist to his core, Ralph wrote in 1937: "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." As Ralph completed his final term as president, in Sept. 1940, the Guild presented him with a scroll of appreciation reading "Devotion to the Cause of Actors, Courage to Fight for the Right, Sacrifice of Self for Others, Have Made the Name of Ralph Morgan a Symbol of Loyalty."

SAG Presidents