Ralph Morgan (July 6, 1883 – June 11, 1956) was a Hollywood film, stage and character actor, and the older brother of Frank Morgan(who played the title role in The Wizard of Oz, 1939).
Born as Raphael Kuhner Wuppermann in New York City, the eighth of eleven children of Josephine Wright and George Diogracia Wuppermann. His mother was a Mayflower descendent and his father, George Wuppermann was a Hispanic and Latino German-born citizen, who had moved to U.S.. He had made a fortune by distributing Angostura bitters, allowing him to send all of his children to universities. Ralph Morgan graduated from Columbia University with a law degree. However, he abandoned the world of jurisprudencefor the vocation of journeyman actor, having already appeared in Columbia's annual Varsity Show. Morgan became so successful in stock and on Broadway that his younger brother, Frank, was encouraged to give acting a try. Frank's career would eventually overshadow that of his elder brother.
His first role on the stage came in The Bachelor in 1909.
Ralph Morgan made his film debut in silent films in 1915, appearing in several production 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.
He later settled into secondary character parts. His quiet, dignified demeanor on screen was often employed for murder mysteries in which, more often than not, he would play what is known as a "heavy", being exposed in the last reel as the killer. 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, which 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 became the first president of SAG in 1933 and was elected to two additional one-year terms in 1938 and 1939, serving until 1940.
"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 ettiquette between fellow thespians
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 (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.