Morgan Woodward was born on September 16, 1925 in Fort Worth, TX. His father and Uncle were both doctors, his uncle Dr. S.A. Woodward was summoned to help in a birth of a male child. The child was named Woodward Ritter, who later on was known as Tex Ritter.
Morgan’s brother, Dr. Lewis Woodward, was a successful professor of music at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, CA. What a small world; his brother worked with Jack Elam’s half brother who was also a PhD. Jack Elam is also recognized as one of the best known supporting actors of his time.
Upon graduating from college, Morgan enrolled in the University of Texas Law School. His studies were interrupted when he was recalled to active duty in the Air Force, during the Korean War. After being released from the military, he pursued a career in acting instead of returning to law school.
One of his longest running television roles was as Deputy “Shotgun” Gibbs in the long running series “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp” (1955 – 1961). He portrayed Gibbs as a trustworthy, cantankerous character endeared by the viewing audience.
Morgan Woodward enjoyed on of the longest and most successful careers in both television and motion pictures.
Over his career, he was a guest star on more than 40 television shows from the 50s through the 90s. He holds the record of appearing in more Gunsmoke and Wagon Train episodes than any other actor. He played various characters on Gunsmoke 19 times and 12 times on Wagon Train. He was also in the made-for-tv movie – “Gunsmoke: To The Last Man” (1992) as Sheriff Abel Rose
He is probably best known for his villains on old westerns and two very distinctive characters on the long running series “Dallas” and his portrayal as Boss Godfrey in the blockbuster movie “Cool Hand Luke”.
He portrayed Marvin “Punk” Anderson in a recurring role on “Dallas” which aired from 1978 to 1991. In Cool Hand Luke (1967), starring Paul Newman, he portrayed the silent, sunglasses-wearing Boss Godfrey — “the man with no eyes”.
He also starred two episodes in the original Star Trek as two different characters. In “Dagger of the Mind”, he portrayed Dr. Simon Van Gelder, an attending physician at a hospital of the criminally insane.
In “The Omega Glory”, he portrayed Captain Ron Tracey, commander of the starship USS Exeter.
The Omega Glory
Morgan Woodward was so sought after due to his ability to wear so many different hats in so many different roles.
In 2005, he attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the premier of Gunsmoke in Dodge City, Kansas. James Arness’ wife and son also attended as Jim was unable to travel.
Due to his long and successful career in TV and Movies, he is recognized by many viewers in many generations. I, personally, believe his work is some of the very finest in the entertainment industry and he should never be forgotten.
He served as a pilot in the Army Air Force in World War II and had been flying airplanes since he was 16.
One of his favorite hobbies is restoring and rebuilding antique aircrafts. In aviation circles, he is considered an authority on Early American Aircraft and has received many awards for his restorations.
In August, 1995, he received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his many western roles.
“Recognition is a funny thing. I’ve been recognized for many roles and recently I had someone remember me from an old show I did more than 20 years ago. It was such an obscure role that it took me a few minutes to remember the part myself. But it’s amazing what people will remember you for doing. I still get response about my role as Shotgun Gibbs on ‘Wyatt Earp’ and that ended in the early 60′s.”