Biography of Morgan Freeman 2024

Morgan Freeman is an acclaimed American actor, producer, and narrator. He is known for his distinguished acting career spanning over five decades and has appeared in numerous popular films. Freeman is the recipient of various accolades including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and multiple Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Some key facts about Morgan Freeman:

  • Full Name: Morgan Porterfield Freeman Jr.
  • Date of Birth: June 1, 1937 (age 86 years)
  • Place of Birth: Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
  • Occupation: Actor, film director, producer, narrator
  • Years active: 1964–present
  • Spouse: Jeanette Adair Bradshaw (m. 1967–1979)
  • Children: 4, including Alfonso Freeman and Saifoulaye Freeman

Early Life and Background

Morgan Freeman was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee. His mother, Mayme Edna, was a teacher and his father, Morgan Porterfield Freeman, was a barber who died in 1961 from liver cirrhosis. Freeman was sent as an infant to be raised by his paternal grandmother in Charleston, Mississippi.

As a child, Freeman had a keen interest in acting and would put on plays with neighborhood children. However, he turned down a drama scholarship to Jackson State University to enlist in the U.S. Air Force in 1955. He served as a radar technician and rose to the rank of Airman 1st Class.

After being honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1959, Freeman moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for acting but struggled to find work. He moved to New York City in the 1960s and won a role in an all African-American Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! in 1968.

Early Life Details

  • Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1937
  • Mother was a teacher, father was a barber
  • Sent to be raised by grandmother in Mississippi as an infant
  • Turned down drama scholarship to join Air Force in 1955
  • Served as radar technician, rose to Airman 1st Class
  • Moved to LA in 1959 after Air Force to pursue acting
  • Struggled to find work, moved to NYC in 1960s

Acting Career Beginnings

After some success on stage, Freeman began getting small roles in films starting in the early 1970s. His first credited film appearance was in the 1971 movie Who Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow! He then landed a role on the PBS children’s show The Electric Company, playing the character Easy Reader from 1971 to 1977.

Some of Morgan Freeman’s early film roles included:

  • Brubaker (1980)
  • Eyewitness (1981)
  • Harry & Son (1984)
  • Marie (1985)
  • That Was Then… This Is Now (1985)

During this period, Freeman also appeared in theater productions like The Gospel at Colonus in 1983 and Driving Miss Daisy in 1987. The latter earned him his first Obie Award (Off-Broadway theater award).

Early Acting Career Summary

  • First film role in 1971’s Who Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow!
  • Played Easy Reader on The Electric Company (1971-1977)
  • Early films included Brubaker, Eyewitness, Harry & Son
  • Starred in theater productions like The Gospel at Colonus
  • Won Obie Award for Driving Miss Daisy in 1987

Rise to Fame in the 1990s

The 1990s proved to be the decade that catapulted Morgan Freeman to mainstream fame. In 1989, he delivered a memorable performance as chauffeur Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy opposite Jessica Tandy. The role earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

He then gave a towering performance as a pimp in the crime drama Street Smart (1987), earning his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Freeman portrayed prisoners in Brubaker (1980) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994). The latter film became one of his most beloved roles.

Other major 1990s roles included:

  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
  • Unforgiven (1992)
  • The Sum of All Fears (1992)
  • Se7en (1995)
  • Amistad (1997)

By the end of the decade, Freeman had become one of Hollywood’s most respected and bankable stars.

1990s Rise to Fame

  • Breakthrough in Driving Miss Daisy in 1989
  • Nominated for Academy Award for Street Smart in 1987
  • Played prisoners in Brubaker and Shawshank Redemption
  • Major roles in Robin Hood, Unforgiven, Se7en, Amistad
  • Became a highly respected and bankable star

Academy Award Win for Million Dollar Baby

After being nominated twice previously, Morgan Freeman finally won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Million Dollar Baby in 2005.

In the film, he portrayed former boxer Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris, who becomes a trainer to Hilary Swank’s character. His subtle yet powerful performance received widespread acclaim from critics.

In his Oscar acceptance speech, Freeman memorably said:

“I want to thank the Academy for recognizing my work in this film and the films over the years. I think most of you know I have spent a goodly part of my life playing characters who love the people they live and work with as much as anyone can. Finally, a chance to applaud the people and the craft that have made the journey possible for me. I thank you all.”

Some other notable roles for Freeman in the 2000s included:

  • Bruce Almighty (2003)
  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • Gone Baby Gone (2007)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Invictus (2009)

Academy Award for Million Dollar Baby

  • Won Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2005 for role in Million Dollar Baby
  • Portrayed boxer-turned-trainer Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris
  • Gave memorable acceptance speech thanking the Academy
  • Other 2000s roles: Bruce Almighty, Batman films, Invictus

Recent Films and Career from 2010 Onwards

Even well into his 70s and 80s, Freeman continues to be one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood. He has appeared in numerous successful films over the past decade.

Some of his most notable recent roles include:

  • Red (2010)
  • Dolphin Tale (2011)
  • The Magic of Belle Isle (2012)
  • Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
  • Lucy (2014)
  • Ben-Hur (2016)
  • Going In Style (2017)

Freeman also reprised his role of Joseph Vitura in the sequel Now You See Me 2 in 2016. He narrated documentaries like We the People and The Story of God with Morgan Freeman (2016).

On the small screen, Freeman appeared in shows like Madam Secretary and The Story of God. He executive produced Madam C.J. Walker (2020) in which he also co-starred.

Recent Films and Work Since 2010

  • Continues to act steadily in his 80s
  • Recent movies include Red, Dolphin Tale, Olympus Has Fallen
  • Reprised role in Now You See Me 2
  • Narrated several documentaries
  • Appeared in shows like Madam Secretary
  • Executive produced and co-starred in Madam C.J. Walker

Acting Style, Persona, and Legacy

Over his expansive career, Morgan Freeman developed a distinctive acting style that radiates gravitas, dignity, and authority. He is known for his smooth, mellifluous voice that complements his calm and wise demeanor on screen.

Due to his noble presence, Freeman is often cast as mentors, father figures, and men of high moral integrity. Some of his iconic roles like in Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby, and Invictus have embodied these qualities.

Freeman has stated that he approaches acting less by inhabiting a character and more by finding his own truth in each role based on the script. This sincere and grounded approach allows his natural charisma to shine through on screen.

With his illustrious career spanning over 50 years in film, theater, and television, Morgan Freeman has cemented his status as an American acting legend. His films have grossed over $4 billion at the box office indicating his enduring star power.

Acting Style and Legacy

  • Distinct style radiates gravitas, dignity, and authority
  • Known for mellifluous voice complementing calm, wise presence
  • Often cast as mentors, father figures, men of high integrity
  • Approaches acting by finding own truth in roles
  • Career has spanned over 50 years in film, theater, and TV
  • One of the most successful and respected American actors

Personal Life, Relationships and Family

Morgan Freeman has been married twice in his life. His first marriage was to Jeanette Adair Bradshaw from 1967 to 1979. The marriage ended in divorce. Together they have three sons – Alfonso Freeman, Saifoulaye Freeman and Morgana Freeman. He adopted his first wife’s daughter from a previous relationship, Deena Freeman.

In 1984, Freeman was in a horrific car accident that left him injured and in pain for years. He had to go through physical therapy to regain full use of his left hand.

Freeman started dating actress Myrna Colley-Lee in the 1980s whom he eventually married in June 1984. They divorced in 2010.

Throughout his life, Freeman has struggled with substance abuse issues. He is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, having given up using drugs by 1990.

Freeman currently resides in Charleston, Mississippi where he owns a blues club called Ground Zero. He survived a plane crash in 2015 when his aircraft skidded off the runway. Freeman’s hobbies include boating, traveling, flying planes, and playing golf and chess.

Personal Life and Relationships

  • Married Jeanette Adair Bradshaw from 1967-1979, had 3 biological sons
  • Adopted daughter from first wife’s previous relationship
  • Second marriage to Myrna Colley-Lee from 1984-2010
  • Struggled with substance abuse and addiction in the past
  • Survived major car accident in 1984 and plane crash in 2015
  • Enjoys boating, traveling, flying, golf, chess in personal time

Philanthropy and Social Activism

Morgan Freeman has supported various philanthropic causes and social issues over the decades. In 1973, he co-founded the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop, which supports emerging Black playwrights.

In 1996, Freeman co-founded the movie production company Revelations Entertainment, which produces socially-relevant films centered around African American culture. The company’s goal is to foster multicultural understanding through entertainment.

Some of the main causes Freeman champions through philanthropy include:

  • Education – donated millions to education programs and institutions
  • Poverty relief – worked with Feeding America to deliver food aid
  • Civil rights – participated in the 1963 March on Washington
  • Science – hosted Through the Wormhole science TV series
  • Environment – promotes conservation through One Earth initiative

In 2012, Freeman donated $1 million to the Campaign for a Healthy Future which aims to reduce rates of infant mortality. For his philanthropic work and activism, Freeman was honored with the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

Philanthropy and Activism

  • Co-founded Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop to support Black playwrights
  • Created Revelations Entertainment production company to make socially-relevant films
  • Supported education, poverty relief, civil rights, science education, the environment
  • Donated $1 million to Campaign for a Healthy Future in 2012
  • Awarded the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011

Net Worth and Income

According to Forbes, Morgan Freeman’s net worth is estimated at $250 million as of 2022, making him one of the richest actors in the world. His massive wealth comes primarily from his film salaries over a remarkably consistent five-decade acting career.

Some of Freeman’s most lucrative acting paydays have been:

  • Bruce Almighty (2003) – $20 million salary
  • Batman Begins (2005) – $15 million
  • The Dark Knight (2008) – $10 million + points
  • Invictus (2009) – $15 million

Other income sources contributing to his wealth include real estate investments, restaurant ownership, film production company earnings, and lucrative brand endorsement deals with companies like Visa and L’Oreal.

Despite his immense wealth, Freeman maintains a simple and understated lifestyle. He has said, “Money is a good thing to have but the best thing is freedom – being able to make choices.”

Net Worth and Income

  • Estimated net worth of $250 million in 2022
  • One of the richest actors in the world
  • Massive wealth from consistently high film salaries over decades
  • Top paydays: Bruce Almighty ($20M), Batman films, Invictus ($15M)
  • Income from real estate, restaurants, production company, endorsements
  • Maintains simple lifestyle despite huge wealth

Interesting Facts About Morgan Freeman

Here are some intriguing facts about the acclaimed actor:

  • Freeman turned down a scholarship from Jackson State University to be an actor. He later received an honorary degree from the same university in 1990.
  • He is a licensed pilot and owns multiple private planes which he flies regularly.
  • As a young man, Freeman declined an offer to join the New York Mets baseball team.
  • He has received four Academy Award nominations over his career, winning once for Million Dollar Baby.
  • Freeman voiced the character of God in the comedy film Bruce Almighty (2003).
  • He has recorded several public service announcements promoting science, engineering, and mathematics education.
  • Freeman is an avid sailor and co-owns a sailing company in the Caribbean called WindGo.
  • He narrated the Academy Award-winning documentary March of the Penguins in 2005.
  • He has played Nelson Mandela twice, in Invictus (2009) and The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela (1999 doc).

Interesting Facts

  • Turned down scholarship to focus on acting, later got degree from same university
  • Licensed pilot who owns multiple private planes
  • Declined offer to join the New York Mets baseball team
  • Voiced God character in Bruce Almighty
  • Passionate about science education and sailing
  • Narrated March of the Penguins and played Nelson Mandela twice

Frequently Asked Questions About Morgan Freeman

Here are some common FAQs related to Morgan Freeman’s life and career:

How old is Morgan Freeman?

As of 2023, Morgan Freeman is 85 years old. He was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee.

What was Morgan Freeman’s big breakout role?

Freeman’s breakout role was as Hoke Colburn in the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy opposite Jessica Tandy. His performance earned him his first Oscar nomination.

What disease does Morgan Freeman have?

In 2012, Freeman was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition causing muscle pain and fatigue. He relies on medication and an exercise regime to manage it.

How much is Morgan Freeman worth?

Freeman’s net worth is estimated at around $250 million as of 2022, making him one of the richest actors in Hollywood.

How many Oscars has Morgan Freeman won?

Freeman has won one Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Million Dollar Baby (2004). He has been nominated a total of five times over his career.

Is Morgan Freeman still acting?

Yes, Freeman continues to take on steady acting roles. Some of his most recent projects are The Comeback Trail (2020), The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021), and Solomon (upcoming).

Is Morgan Freeman married?

Freeman is currently unmarried. He was married twice before – to Jeanette Adair Bradshaw (1967–1979) and Myrna Colley-Lee (1984–2010). Both marriages ended in divorce.

What is Morgan Freeman’s production company?

Along with business partner Lori McCreary, Freeman co-founded Revelations Entertainment, an independent production company, in 1996.

What accent does Morgan Freeman have?

Freeman possesses a distinctive deep Southern accent from growing up in Mississippi. His mellifluous voice is one of his defining traits as an actor.