FRESNO — Dennis Morgan, the singer and leading man who played opposite Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Ginger Rogers and other stars of the 1940s, has died. He was 85.
Morgan, who became a rancher after his retirement as an actor in the late 1960s, died Wednesday of respiratory failure at a Fresno hospital with his wife of 60 years at his bedside. A family friend said Morgan had been ill with heart problems for some time.
Morgan, whose real name was Stanley Morner, appeared in several B movies before his breakthrough role as a society snob in the 1940 film "Kitty Foyle." Ginger Rogers won an Oscar for her role in that film.
Among Morgan's other movies were "My Wild Irish Rose," "Desert Song," "God Is My Co-Pilot," "Cheyenne" and "Christmas in Connecticut."
Morgan began his career as a radio announcer in Milwaukee and went on to broadcast Green Bay Packers football games. His radio singing in Chicago led to a screen debut in the 1930s.
During his tenure in Hollywood, Morgan served as honorary mayor of Crescenta-Canada Valley.
He was named "singer of the year" in 1947 by the Music Trades Assn.
An avid supporter of Dwight D. Eisenhower and other Republican candidates, Morgan once considered running for Congress. He decided against the move, however, to spend more time with his family.
Morgan, who lived in Madera County, is survived by his wife, Lillian; three children, Stanley Morner Jr., Krista Kennedy and Jim Morner; several grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church in Oakhurst, Calif.
The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to Morgan's alma mater, Carroll College, 100 N. East Ave., Waukesha, Wis., 53186, to benefit its theater arts department.