Apr. 10th, 1915
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Guest TV Roles
Officer Bill Gannon
Doc Amos B. Coogan
Francis X Healy
Harry Morgan is a long-time character actor, famous as Col. Sherman Potter on M*A*S*H, and as Officer Bill Gannon, Jack Webb's sidekick on the 1960s revival of Dragnet. He played Pete, the wacky neighbour, on the 1950s series December Bride with Spring Byington, then took the character to a spin-off series, Pete & Gladys with Cara Williams. On other series, he played sidekick to Dennis Weaver in Kentucky Jones, Robert Conrad on The D.A., and Richard Boone twice, on the early '60s anthology The Richard Boone Show, and on the early '70s cop show Hec Ramsey.
Morgan studied law at the University of Chicago, until Depression-era finances forced him to leave school. He worked as a salesman while appearing in amateur plays, and landed his first professional role in a 1937 staging of At Mrs. Beam's opposite Frances Farmer. His film career was mostly character work, including High Noon with Gary Cooper, The Ox Bow Incident with Henry Fonda, The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart, Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March, Appointment with Danger with Alan Ladd, and John Wayne's last film, The Shootist.
Morgan was married for 45 years to stage actress Eileen Detchon, until her death. His second wife is Barbara Quine, granddaughter of Francis X. Bushman, a silent era movie star who played Messala in the 1925 Ben-Hur. In 1996, in an argument after attending a party, Morgan was arrested for beating Quine, and according to the police report, she had "a red, swollen left foot, a one-quarter-inch cut near her right eye and a bruised right arm." Charges were dropped when he agreed to attend anger management classes.
In addition to providing the only hints of humour on Dragnet, Morgan worked with Webb on numerous other projects. They both appeared in the 1949 noir Appointment with Danger, and the 1950 thriller Dark City starring Charlton Heston. Webb produced three of Morgan's TV series, The D.A., Hec Ramsey, and, of course, Dragnet, and Morgan directed several episodes of Webb's Adam-12. He also wrote the foreword to Webb's biography, My Name's Friday.
For the first fifteen years of his movie career, he was billed as Henry Morgan, while at the same time a comedian used the same stage name with growing success. Both became well-known, both eventually starred in TV series, and to make matters more confusing they were very nearly the same age, born only weeks apart in 1915, with similar builds and facial structures. The Morgan of M*A*S*H and Dragnet yielded the name in the late 1950s, becoming Harry Morgan. That other Henry Morgan died in 1994.
- Of Norwegian descent, his grandparents were immigrants from Scandinavia.
- Prior to joining the cast of _"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv) in the fourth season as the stern but decent Colonel Potter, he appeared in the third season episode "The General Flipped At Dawn" as a crazed general who wanted to move the 4077 unit closer to the front line.
- He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio at 6325 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
- In the episode "The Days Dwindle Down" (episode # 3.21) of _"Murder, She Wrote" (1984)_ (qv), he played an LAPD Detective Webb. In 1967, he starred as a member of the LAPD in _"Dragnet 1967" (1967)_ (qv) which was created by and co-starred 'Jack Webb (I)' (qv).
- In several episodes of _"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv), Col. Potter was seen painting portraits, mainly of the other characters. These portraits were actually painted by Morgan.
- Once said that he enjoyed playing Colonel Potter on _"M*A*S*H" (1972)_ (qv) so much that he felt that he could have "gone on forever" playing that character.
- He was an active opponent of the anti-communist witch hunts in Hollywood.
- Grandfather of Spencer Morgan (son of Charles and Charlotte Morgan) of Los Angeles, California.