The older brother of actor Frank Morgan, Ralph Morgan graduated from Columbia University with a law degree, but chucked the stuffy world of jurisprudence for the more exciting (to him) vocation of journeyman actor. So successful was Morgan in stock and on Broadway that his kid brother, Frank, was encouraged to give the theater a try -- and as a result became even more famous than Ralph. The elder Morgan made his film bow in 1931, playing leading roles in such productions as Strange Interlude (1932) and Rasputin and the Empress (1933) before settling into secondary character parts. It was Morgan's distinction to play more "surprise" killers in more murder mysteries than virtually any other actor in Hollywood (to list the titles of these mysteries would give away the surprise -- if any). Among the actor's off-camera interests were politics and labor relations; he was one of the founders and charter members of the Screen Actors Guild. He was also the first President of the SAG. Ralph Morgan was the father of Claudia Morgan, an actress best known for her portrayal of Nora Charles on the "Thin Man" radio series.
by Hal Erickson biography