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 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.
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.
Personal life and death
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.