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Respected actor Morgan Freeman has appeared in such films as Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven and Batman Begins.
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When Morgan Freeman went back to visit his parents in Mississippi in the 1950s, he realized the state was the only place that felt like home.
Morgan Freeman has become a Hollywood Icon and with an impressive body of work that includes "Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Shawshank Redemption." He became a key figure in the shift from minor to major roles for African-American actors.
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Morgan Freeman was born June 1, 1937, in Memphis, Tennessee. Although he loved acting, Freeman joined the air force after high school to become a fighter pilot. He later realized it wasn't what he'd wanted, and began his acting career. After years of small parts and limited success, he began to land big roles and win critical and popular acclaim. He's now one of Hollywood's most respected stars.
Actor, director, narrator. Morgan Freeman was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee. The youngest of five children born to barber Morgan Porterfield Freeman, Sr. and schoolteacher Mayme Edna, Freeman was raised in Chicago and Mississippi in a low-income home. Not long after he was born, Morgan's parents, like so many other African-Americans struggling under the pressures of the Jim Crow south, relocated to Chicago to find work. While his parents looked for jobs, Freeman remained with his maternal grandmother in Charlestown, Mississippi.
At the age of six, Freeman's grandmother died and he moved north to be with his mother, who had already separated from her alcoholic husband. More moves followed, to Tennessee and eventually back to Mississippi, where Mayme Edna settled her family in Greenwood.
As a kid, Freeman spent a good portion of his time scraping together enough money to see movies, where he formed an early admiration for actors like Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier. It was by chance that Freeman himself got into acting. He was in junior high school and, as punishment for pulling out a chair from underneath a girl he had a crush on, Freeman was ordered to participate in the school's drama competition. To his surprise, and probably school administrators, the 12-year-old proved to be an immediate natural on the stage, taking top honors in the program.
But while Freeman loved to act, flying—in particular the idea of being a fighter pilot—was in his heart of hearts. And so, upon graduating high school in 1955, Morgan turned down a partial drama scholarship and joined the U.S. Air Force. The military, though, proved to be much different than what he'd expected. Instead of darting around the skies, Freeman was relegated to on-the-ground activity as a mechanic and radar technician. He also realized that he didn't want to be shooting down other people.
"I had this very clear epiphany," he told AARP Magazine. "You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this." In 1959, Freeman left the Air Force and tried his fortunes out West, moving to Hollywood to see if he could make it as an actor. It wasn't an easy life. He took acting classes and struggled to find work. In the early 1960s, he moved again, this time to New York City, where more petty day jobs and nighttime auditions followed.
In 1967, the same year he married Jeanette Adair Bradshaw, Freeman's big career break came when he landed a part in an all African-American Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! starring Pearl Bailey.
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See our group of screen presidents, which includes actors who have played real-life American presidents as well as faux chief executives. Biography.com's Screen President group includes Frank Langella, Morgan Freeman, Josh Brolin, Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day-Lewis and many more.
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Best Supporting Actor Oscar Winners 46 people in this group
Celebrity Aviators 21 people in this group