31 Mar The Life of Morgan Freeman
The Life of Morgan Freeman
Photos and Copy BY JILL WEINLEIN
At the rededication of a lecture hall inside the Cinema Building on the campus of Los Angeles City College (LACC), actor Morgan Freeman looked up and smiled at his shiny name on the wall of The Morgan Freeman Theater. Walking across campus with Dr. Mary Gallagher, President of Los Angeles City College and Shaena Engle, Public Relations Manager, Morgan stopped to talk to students and posed for photos.
Later inside the Camino Theatre on campus, Freeman shared his life story starting when he was born on June 1, 1937, and desire to act starting at a young age. His mother used to tell him “Morgan you are so entertaining, I’m going to take you to Hollywood some day.” Her wish came true after he got out of the Air Force. With $175 in his hand, he arrived in Hollywood to become a star. Within one month, he ran out of money and starting looking for a job. When he was hired at LACC as a transcript clerk, his plan was to make some money and take acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse. When he told a co-worker this plan, the co-worker told him how LACC has one of the best theatre programs and it’s free. Freeman soon enrolled in Theatre 101, Theatre 102, Speech and Diction and French.
He worked in the transcript office 8 hours a day, ate dinner, and then went to class. He was dedicated to go to school and get what he wanted. One of the most useful classes he took was the speech class, where he learned about the development of the voice. “Most people speak in a voice too high, and in the class, we learned how to speak in a lower octave. Most people speak too fast, so we learned how to slow down,” said Freeman. This skill gave him the clear and commanding voice that made him an award winning actor.
In the fall of 1960, Freeman sold his car and moved to New York. “Anyone can get a job in New York,” said Freeman. After five months, he moved to San Francisco and took dance classes studying ballet, jazz and tap with a goal to get on a Broadway stage. Members of the small repertory company told him, “You aren’t a dancer, you are an actor.”
He went back to New York in September 1963, and worked on a movie. It was a night shot, and slowly actors were being told they weren’t needed anymore, until Freeman was the last man standing. At that moment, he realized that this is where he belonged.
The moment he knew he didn’t have to work to be an actor was in 1967 when he got a role in “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway with Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway at the St. James Theatre. He made $92 a week and received a lot of publicity.
His favorite acting experiences were the stage version of Driving Miss Daisy, and everything he worked on with Clint Eastwood, especially Million Dollar Baby (2004), where he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. He also enjoyed working with Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption (1994).
Clint Eastwood fueled Freeman’s dream when he cast Freeman in “Unforgiven.” When things looked bleak, Eastwood called him and asked if he wanted to ride along with him in this movie. What Freeman likes about Eastwood’s directing is how he saves time and money while directing, “He wastes no time, shoots once and moves on.” said Freeman.
For the multiple Academy Award Winning Million Dollar Baby film, Eastwood asked if he would like to take another ride with him again. Then when Freeman received the extraordinary script “Invictus”, and was asked who he thought should direct the film. Freeman immediately said, Eastwood! “It was one of the most fun productions,” Freeman said.
When asked what are you currently working on? He replied “A movie about singer and songwriter Chuck Berry and musician Johnnie Johnson.”
His oasis is his home in Mississippi where he can “count the cars he sees on one hand”. Morgan Freeman always has a home at LACC, where an existing lecture hall now proudly displays his name.
When asked what is his last thought at night before he goes to sleep, Freeman replied, “Let me wake up.”
Morgan Freement’s reported net worth $250 million dollars.
In 2018, struggled with defending himself against accusations of inappropriate behavior cases.
He narrated an infomercial on behalf of Hilary Rodham Clinton during her run for president in 2016.
In February 2018, he was part of the film, Monochrome: Black, White, and Blue, a powerful docu-series launched on Amazon Prime about the plight of people in America’s deep south.
Freeman is currently single after several marriages ending in divorce. He has two children. His stepgranddaughter from the first marriage was murdered in New York City at age 33.
Beekeeping is an unusual hobby which was adopted after he became concerned with the decline of honeybees. In July 2014, he turned his 124 acre ranch into a sanctuary for them, starting with 26 bee hives.
At age 65, he earned a private pilot’s license and has owned at least three private aircraft.
In 2008, he was injured in an automobile accident where his left shoulder, arm, and elbow were broken as a result of the crash.