“Get busy living, or get busy dying,” Mr. Freeman said it right. Explore some amazing and true Facts About Morgan Freeman below!
Morgan Freeman is a well-respected actor and versatile actor in Hollywood. He is best known for his iconic roles in films. He’s 79 years old and shows no signs of slowing down.
Continue reading to find out more about one of Hollywood’s most beloved good guys.
Morgan Freeman Facts
32. The baby of the family
Morgan Porterfield Freeman Jr. was born June 1, 1937, in Memphis, Tenn. He was one of five children in a family that included five siblings. His father was a barber, and his mother Mayme Edna was a schoolteacher.
31. Be humble in your beginnings
Morgan was born in Chicago, and his parents moved to Chicago shortly after. His parents struggled to find work. Freeman, however, stayed in Charleston with his maternal grandmother until he was six. Freeman moved in with his mother after his grandmother died.
30. Early influences
Freeman was a very poor child and spent a lot of time trying to save money for the movies. He claims that his first matinee idols were Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, and Sidney Poitier. Poitier is the first African-American actor to win an Oscar.
29. A chair that changed lives
Freeman pulled a chair out from under a girl he was interested in when he was in junior high school. He was punished and forced to participate in the drama competition at his school. Surprised by his teachers, the 12-year-old won the top honors in the drama competition.
28. The wild blue yonder
After graduating high school, Freeman attended Los Angeles City College. He then joined the U.S. Air Force, in 1955, in hopes of a career in the skies. After four years as a mechanic, Freeman decided not to reenlist. He told AARP Magazine that he had a clear epiphany. “You’re not in love, you’re in love with the idea.” He quit the Air Force to pursue his acting dream in Hollywood.
27. His first major break
Freeman’s big break came in 1967 when he was cast in Hello, Dolly!, the first all-African American stage production. He starred alongside Ernestine Jackson, Cab Calloway, and Pearl Bailey. He married Jeanette Adair Bradley that year, which was his first marriage.
26. “Hey, you guyyyyyyyyys!”
Freeman made his first film credit appearance in 1971’s Who Says It Can’t Ride a Rainbow. But his first exposure to national audiences was when he was part of The Electric Company (1971-1977), a children’s TV program created by the same people that created Sesame Street. Freeman performed comedy skits and sang for six seasons, 780 episodes. Mel Mounds, Count Dracula, and Easy Reader were some of his characters.
25. Making his payments
The Electric Company was steady work. Freeman wanted to make a career in film. His career was boosted when he was cast as a prisoner in Robert Redford’s 1980 film Brubaker. Freeman did not get the film work he hoped for and he retreated to television. He appeared on Ryan’s Hope, Another World, and Death of a Prophet, where he was the part of Malcolm X, a civil-rights leader who was killed.
24. Talking with the insane
Morgan Freeman was able to have some interesting conversations with inmates while on set for Brubaker. “When we did Brubaker we were in a prison that was for the criminally insane. They told us to not talk to inmates. What do you do when a man accused of killing his family speaks up to you? You won’t turn down an opportunity to speak with him.”
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23. Stars are born
Freeman began to be recognized in the 1980s for his roles as a mentor and others in authority positions. This would become a common theme over the years. He said that Fast Black was his favorite role. This was a villainous pimp who appeared in Street Smart 1987. He once said, “That one was as far from me as you can get.” He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscars and received a glowing review by Pauline Kael (film critic). Kael also asked the world, “Is Morgan Freeman America’s greatest actor?”
22. Dress for success, and have someone else pay it!
“The first role I ever had in a movie was that of a pimp in Street Smart. This was in the late 1980s. The costume designer said to me, “So, how do you see yourself?” At the time, all pimps were wearing crushed velvet, robes, and platform shoes. I replied, “None of this.” She then said, “Armani?” I agreed, and she spent all her costume money on me.
21. We are beginning to see a pattern…
Street Smart was followed by Freeman’s roles in Clean and Sober, Lean on Me (as an aggressive but supportive drug rehabilitation counselor), and Glory (as an officer in the U.S. Civil War’s first all-black volunteer organization). His role as Hoke (the kindly chauffeur who drove Miss Daisy to Driving Miss Daisy 1989) was what propelled him to the Hollywood A-list. He also won his first Golden Globe Award and first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
20. “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
Freeman had a great decade in the 1990s. Freeman was a great actor in films like Se7en and Amistad, as well as his role as Robin Hood’s Merry Men in 1991’s Robin Hood. The movie Freeman cites as his favorite is 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption. However, Red was an Irishman of middle age in the story, so major-league actors such as Clint Eastwod and Harrison Ford were also considered. Director Frank Darabont maintained that Morgan Freeman was always in his thoughts for the role due to his calm demeanor, authoritative presence, and deep voice.
19. His dedication to his craft
The scene in which Andy (Tim Robbins), and Red (Red) chat in prison while Red pitches a baseball took nine hours. Freeman plied that baseball for nine hours without complaining. His arm was in a sling and he showed up to work the next morning.
18. God, are you there? Oh… hi, Morgan!
It was a sign of authoritative presence that Freeman was chosen to play God in Bruce Almighty’s 2003 comedy Bruce Almighty. In which Jim Carrey’s all-man character is given the power and might of God, Freeman will no doubt be a surprise. Jack Nicholson had been initially approached, but he declined the role.
17. You think he charges voicemail messages at what price?
Freeman’s calm and authoritative voice makes him an easy choice for documentary filmmakers who are looking for the best narrator to tell their stories. Freeman was the narrator of March of the Penguins in 2005. This Oscar-winning documentary about nature went on to make more money at the box offices than any of the Best Picture nominees of that year. Freeman recorded the narration for the documentary’s 80-minute duration in just one day.
16. Best. Year. Ever.
2005 was a big year for Freeman. His work on March of the Penguins and his collaboration with Clint Eastwood in 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, where he plays a former prize fighter who helps to develop the skills of a young woman boxer, earned him his first Oscar at the 2005 Academy Awards. He also narrated Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (2006) and was a part of Batman Begins (2005), as Lucius Fox (Bruce Wayne’s technical support) and ally in the war against crime. This role Freeman would reprise twice in the trilogy.
In 2008, the TV series African American Lives 2 revealed that his Caucasian great-great-grandfather had lived with, and was buried beside, his African-American great-great-grandmother (the two could not legally marry at the time, in the segregated South).
14. He must be pretty “buzzy” from it.
Freeman is a beekeeper who has more than two dozen colonies. Freeman converted his Mississippi ranch of 124 acres into a beekeeping sanctuary after hearing about the declining honeybee population and the impact it had on the environment.
13. He chooses his roles in films
He said that he enjoys being diverse about his film choices. The more diverse the better, the greater the variety. I have been drawn into the mold of a good man and it’s almost impossible to control. A good story and a well-rounded character are all I’m looking for.
12. Great guy onscreen, great guy offscreen
Freeman spends his time being the good guy in his movies and being nice in real life. Freeman founded the Rock River Foundation which has helped donate millions of dollars to education programs. Freeman has raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims and helped to organize aid funds for Grenada’s hurricane victims in 2004.
11. Actor, philanthropist, and beekeeper… blues enthusiast?
Ground Zero was opened in Clarksdale by Freeman and two Memphis businessmen in May 2001. It is located not far from Freeman’s Charleston, MS home. Its name derives from Clarksdale’s historical status as “ground zero” in the blues.
10. Planning ahead pays off
A friend made Freeman a cabinet that contained an area for the Academy Award. It was complete with a plaque that read “No Parking.” Reserved for Oscar” Freeman finally had the opportunity to fill the spot in 2005 when he received the statue for his role as Million Dollar Baby.
9. Lego is like a class reunion.
Freeman’s work continues to attract fans and shows no signs of slowing down. He lent his voice as Vitruvius in 2014’s The Lego Movie. This wise old man believes in Emmett. Morgan was Morgan’s first animated role. However, it was like a home week for him. He had worked previously with Liam Neeson and Dave Franco (Wally), and both he (Emmett and now you see me) appeared in 2008’s Wanted.
8. Awards? Make a larger cabinet.
Apart from his Oscar… and Golden Globe wins… and the Cecil B. DeMille Award…and his AFI Life Achievement Award…in 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Freeman a National Medal of Arts. Obama stated that Freeman was being recognized for his exceptional work as an actor and director.
7. Thank you, Dr. Freeman.
Freeman is a favorite among the commencement ceremony attendees, and they are eager to hear his voice.
6. Talkin’ ‘Bout my Veneration…
Freeman was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors Medal in 2008. He was joined by George Jones, Barbra Streisand, and Twyla Tharp, as well as choreographer Twyla Tharp, and members of The Who.
5. One simple reason is that he doesn’t like his own movies.
He once said to an interviewer, “I find watching myself difficult… It’s boring.” He’s a minority opinion, which is good news for all of us.
4. In a game of golf, don’t place money on him.
Morgan Freeman, an American golfer, is the first to score a par on the “Extreme 18th” hole at Legend Golf & Safari Resort Limpopo in South Africa. It is the longest and highest par 3 hole in the entire world.
3. Recognized for their well-earned achievements
In 2016, Morgan Freeman received the Chaplin Award, at 78 years of age, to recognize his unwavering commitment to cinema. The video is available below.
2. He really feels good about being a good guy
Freeman is positive about the fact that he has spent most of his career being typecast as a father figure and good guy. The industry places you in a niche. Sidney [Poitier] has never played a bad role. Fonda played a bad role in Once Upon a Time in the West once, but that was the only time he did. Gary Cooper did not. Clark Gable never did. You’re sure to be in good company if you are packaged as Mr. Good Guy.
1. Honorable confinement in prison
Morgan Freeman, a man of honor and loyalty who was compelled to stay with his friend, was sent to jail when he served in the Air Force. “Have any of you been in jail before? I have. When I was a child, I was in Air Force and had been with a friend to Los Angeles. He had left his Class A pass on the table when we left the base. He was broke and we were hitchhiking. I had some money but didn’t want him to leave me. We were stopped by the police on the freeway. The cop asked us both for our IDs. My friend had his and mine. The cop told us that we would have to call the shore patrol as we didn’t know if we were AWOL. I had mine and my friend’s. So we went to jail for four days.