Morgan Freeman is the beloved actor with a velvety voice who has starred in roles ranging from God to a gravedigger, and everything in between. Today we celebrate the iconic actor with a list of lesser-known facts about his life and career.
Morgan Freeman Facts
Sure, everyone knows Morgan Freeman, but how well do you really know him? Read our list of 14 bits of Morgan Freeman trivia and find out.
14. He’s a big advocate for legalizing marijuana. In a 2015 interview with The Daily Beast, Freeman pulled no punches in his advocacy for legalizing pot. “Legalize it across the board!” he said.
Although he points to modern medical uses of weed as reasons for legalization, Morgan says he started smoking it years ago when his first wife introduced him to it. “My first wife got me into it many years ago,” he said. “How do I take it? However it comes! I’ll eat it, drink it, smoke it, snort it!”
“I have fibromyalgia pain in this arm, and the only thing that offers any relief is marijuana,” he added.
13. He has been the subject of several internet hoaxes over the years. In 2012, social media lit up with rumors that Morgan Freeman had died. In the years since, similar death hoaxes have been circulated by fake news sites hoping to gain quick sharing for these types of false stories. Morgan was also the subject of a fake gun control rant which circulated in his name a few years back.
The Google Trends chart below shows how often Morgan Freeman death hoaxes have occurred over the past several years.
12. He published a cookbook. “Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause” was produced to raise money for victims of Hurricane Ivan.
The cookbook’s description notes, “To raise money in support of the Grenada Relief Fund for victims of 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, Morgan Freeman has solicited a bevy of Hollywood celebrities to adorn this compilation of Caribbean recipes with their familiar images.” Celebrities including Tim Robbins, Katie Couric, and Tom Hanks contributed to the 256-page book.
11. Morgan became a private pilot at the age of 65. He owns (or has owned) at least three private aircraft, and is certified to fly all of them. He is an advocate for General Aviation Serves America, as seen in the video below. His interest in flying dates back to his stint in the Air Force from 1955 to 1959.
10. He once fell asleep during an on-air interview. When Morgan and Now You See Me co-star Michael Caine appeared in a live TV interview, Freeman appeared to nod off while Caine spoke. No one attempted to wake Morgan, who seemed to snap out of it on his own.
Freeman later offered a humorous response, saying, “Regarding my recent interview, I wasn’t actually sleeping. I’m a beta tester for Google Eyelids and I was merely taking the opportunity to update my Facebook page.” (Source)
9. He briefly appeared in two soap operas. Freeman played Dr. Roy Bingham in Another World (1983) and Cicero Murphy in Ryan’s Hope (1981). You can see him in action in the clip below.
8. Morgan is a beekeeper. Out of concern for the plight of the honeybee, Freeman used his 124-acre ranch to house 26 bee hives. “There’s a concerted effort to bring bees back onto the planet … We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation… I have so many flowering things and I have a gardener too. Because she takes care of the bees too, all she does is figure out, ‘OK, what would they like to have?’, so we’ve got acres and acres of clover, we’re planting stuff like lavender, I’ve got like, maybe 140 magnolia trees, big blossoms,” he said.
Freeman discussed his new hobby in this 2014 appearance on The Tonight Show.
7. He’s had several brushes with death. In 2008, Morgan was injured in a serious car crash when his vehicle flipped over several times in Mississippi. He broke several bones and had to be cut free from the wreckage. He still suffers problems with his left hand due to the crash. In 2014, while piloting his own plane, Freeman made several emergency landings. In late 2015, Freeman emerged unscathed when the plane he was on crash landed after a tire blew out on take-off.
6. His first professional gig was as a part-time dancer at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
5. His first starring role didn’t come until he was 50 years old. Although he had performed on stage and screen for years, it wasn’t until Street Smart in 1987 that Freeman earned top billing alongside Christopher Reeve. The role earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination, and many see this as his breakthrough performance. Recognition for this part in Street Smart led to acclaimed roles such as Driving Miss Daisy and Glory two years later.
4. He isn’t a fan of Black History Month. In a 2005 interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Freeman called Black History Month “ridiculous.” He said, “You’re going to relegate my history to a month? I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.” He also said that labels such as “black” and “white” are counterproductive to overcoming racism. “I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” Freeman said to Mike Wallace.
3. Being a regular on the 1970s children’s show The Electric Company turned him into an alcoholic. Freeman played such recurring roles as Mel Mounds the DJ, Easy Reader, and Vincent the Vegetable Vampire.
He hated it, calling it “debilitating” and said the experience drove him to drink. In a 1990 interview, he described his early TV experiences. “I began to feel like a prostitute against my will. They dangled money in front of me. I couldn’t say no. So, every day you get up and go to the same place and do the same thing and it makes you very angry. That’s when I started living a life that made me eventually say, ‘Did my mother raise this kind of child?’ ”
Below is a playlist of Freeman’s days on The Electric Company.
2. When asked to name the three smartest things he did in his life, Freeman said, “Being born, leaving the Air Force to go to Hollywood, and leaving Hollywood to go to New York.”
1. His first acting experience came as a punishment. In Junior High, Freeman was trying to get the attention of a girl named Barbara, and did so by pulling her chair out from underneath her. His teacher took him to another room where a drama was being prepared for a tournament, where he was told to participate. He ended up winning “Best Actor” for his part in the tournament.
“Well, we do this play ’bout a family with a wounded son just home from the war – I play his kid brother,” he said. “We win the district championship, we win the state championship, and dadgummit, I’m chosen as best actor. All ’cause I pull this chair out from under Barbara.”
What little-known facts about Morgan Freeman do you think should be on this list? Tell us in the comments below.