in the trailer for the film
The Hard Way (1943)
Earl Stanley Morner
December 20, 1908
|Died||September 7, 1994 (aged 85)|
|Alma mater||Marshfield High School Carroll College|
|Lillian Vedder (1933-1994, his death)|
|Parent(s)||Frank Edward Morner |
Grace J. Vandusen Morner
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."
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. 
Unbilled, he sang the Irving Berlin song, A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody, in The Great Ziegfeld (1936).
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.
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.
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".
|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|