Vintage Hunk: Dennis Morgan

By: Mike McCrann

Warner Bros. Studios in the '30s and '40s had some of the biggest stars in the world, and all of the top ones — James Cagney, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland — waged war against studio head Jack Warner for better parts and more money. But Dennis Morgan was one Warner stalwart who never pitched any battles, which probably helped him remain one of the studio's top leading men for more than a decade.

Born Earl Stanley Morner in 1908, Dennis Morgan hit it big at Warner Bros. after costarring with Ginger Rogers in her Oscar winning hit Kitty Foyle. Morgan played the sexy, weak main line Philadelphian that working girl Kitty falls for. After appearing with Merle Oberon in Affectionately Yours, Dennis Morgan settled into a stellar career as a leading man. He memorably played the unfaithful husband to Olivia de Havilland in the thriller In This Our Life, in which Bette Davis taunts his character to disgrace and finally suicide.

In 1943, Morgan showed off his great singing voice in the now lost version of The Desert Song, but perhaps his finest role was opposite Ida Lupino in the gritty drama The Hard Way. Morgan was paired with Jack Carson in that film — as vaudevillians — and the two actors would go on to star in a number of popular buddy movies. Sort of a low rent version of the Crosby/Hope Road movies, Morgan and Carson were a very popular team throughout the '40s, and their Two Guys series helped fill the Warner coffers.

1945 was probably Morgan's most successful year. He starred in the stirring wartime drama God Is My Co-Pilot, and he was Barbara Stanwyck's hunky co-star in Christmas in Connecticut — a holiday TV perennial to this day.

Morgan finished his Warner contract — and pretty much his film career — with 1952's This Woman Is Dangerous, in which his good doctor saved not only gun moll Joan Crawford's eye sight, but also turned her into a respectable citizen through his decency and love.

Despite his leading man status, Morgan never landed that one iconic role all actors hope for, but he did appear onscreen with the greatest actresses of the era and make each one look her best. 

Married to one woman from 1933 until his death at 85 in 1994, Morgan stayed out of the gossip columns and Hollywood limelight his entire career. He had three children.

Although he might not be considered an outstanding actor or a huge Golden Age movie idol like James Cagney or Humphrey Bogart, Morgan was handsome, sexy, talented, and possessed a beautiful voice and a killer smile. If you want to see him at his best, watch Kitty Foyle and especially In This Our Life.

Below is a charming clip of Morgan looking very hot in his military uniform, singing for a distressed Barbara Stanwyck in the holiday favorite Christmas in Connecticut. Enjoy.