Morgan Freeman is one of the most versatile and well-respected actors in Hollywood. He’s known for his iconic roles and velvety voice. Apart from his amazing ability to perform and voiceover, he’s a humble human being with a calm demeanor. The celebrated actor is 81 years old but shows no signs of slowing down. There’s so much more than just the distinctive voice that has made Morgan such a beloved celebrity over the decades. Here, we are listing some amazing and lesser-known facts about the iconic actors’ life and career.
1. When he was 12, Freeman was forced to participate in a drama, as a punishment for teasing a classmate.
In Junior High, Freeman had a crush and was trying to get the attention of a girl named Barbara. However, the way he chose to show affection was by pulling her chair out from underneath her. Freeman did this right in front of the teacher, who grabbed him by the arm and took him to another room. In that room were several others preparing for a drama tournament and Freeman was told that he had to participate in the drama or face serious punishments.
Freeman of course took the offer and ended up winning “Best Actor” for his part in the tournament. He recalls the part of his life in a interview:
“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.”
His tale shows that he exhibited talent early but did not take acting seriously, even when others saw potential in him. (source)
2. He didn’t always dream of becoming an actor. After graduating from school, Freeman attended Los Angeles City College and then joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955.
After graduating from school, Morgan Freeman aimed for the skies. He hoped to become a pilot and in 1955, joined the U.S. Air Force. After four years of working as a radar technician, he was promoted to the rank of airman 1st class; where he got the chance to train as a fighter pilot. He had always dreamt of becoming a pilot but when he got the chance to sit in the cockpit, reality hit him. In an interview with AARP Magazine, he explained: “I had this very clear epiphany. You are not in love with this; you are in love with the idea of this”. He left the Air Force in 1959, and moved to Hollywood to pursue his dream of acting.
Freeman became a private pilot at the age of 65. He owns at least three private aircrafts, and is certified to fly all of them. He is also an advocate for General Aviation Serves America. (source)
3. Freeman’s first starring role didn’t come until he was 52 years old.
Freeman’s first big break didn’t come until 1967, when he joined a musical in which he starred alongside such greats as Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway and Ernestine Jackson. Starring in the all-African American stage production of Hello, Dolly!, took his career to a different level. The same year, he married Jeanette Adair Bradshaw, his first wife. Although he had performed on stage and screen for years, he was unable to land any major roles.
In 1979, his marriage fell apart, leading to a divorce. Not only was his personal life hurting, but so was his acting career. However, a year after the divorce, he landed a part in the film, Brubaker (1980). For another seven years, Morgan Freeman worked as a narrator for many TV mini series as well as played small roles. His fortunes changed in 1987, when he was cast in the film Street Smart, as Fast Black. It proved to be a huge success for him as well as earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Two years later, Freeman received more acclaim when he was cast as the kind-hearted but stubborn chauffeur in 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy. By the 1990’s, Freeman was starring in big films such as The Shawshank Redemption, Seven and Deep Impact. (source)
4. He published a cookbook. “Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause”, was produced to raise money to support the victims of Hurricane Ivan.
The 2004 hurricane, Ivan, caused a great deal of devastation on the tiny island of Grenada. Homes were destroyed and families were stranded. Today, the island is still recovering from its aftermath. In response, Freeman established the Grenada Relief Fund by publishing a cookbook: Morgan Freeman and Friends. He was prompted to write the book after receiving a phone call from his Grenadian friend, Champie Evans. The profits from the book is donated to help rebuild Grenada, ravaged by Hurricane Ivan.
The book contains recipes as well as stories of 15 celebrities who visited and spent time on the island. It is filled with colorful photos of the stars talking about how much the Caribbean islands mean to them. In addition to top recipes, Freeman also added recipes from chefs from top-rated Caribbean resorts in the book. According to CharitableGiftGiving, he is donating 100% of the book’s proceeds to the Grenada Relief Fund. (source)
5. In The Shawshank Redemption, the scene in which Andy (Tim Robbins) and Red chat in the prison yard while Red is pitching a baseball took nine hours to film.
The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best movies to be produced. Morgan Freeman plays the character ‘Red’, an inmate who becomes closely associated with Andy Dufresne. While filming the scene where Andy and Red and chatting in the prison yard as Red is pitching a baseball, various mishaps caused the crew to film for a straight nine hours. As the production team kept filming, trying to perfect the scene, Freeman kept pitching the baseball for the entire duration. He did not complain but the next day arrived on the set with his arm in a sling. (source)
6. He once fell asleep during an on-air interview.
In 2013, Freeman and Now You See Me co-star Michael Caine appeared in a live TV interview. As Caine started talking to the hosts, Freeman appeared to nod off. Although none of the TV crew members attempted to wake him up, he seemed to snap out of it on his own. After the interview, when asked if he was actually sleeping during a live interview, Freeman offered a humorous response: “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)
7. Freeman has more nominations and awards than the number of movies he has starred in.
Morgan Freeman chooses his roles carefully. “I like being eclectic. The more varied the better; the wider the range. I’ve been sucked into a kind of mold of a good guy and that’s actually almost beyond my ability to control. But other than that, a good story and an interesting character is all I am looking for”.
For his career achievements as well as humanitarian works, he has been awarded numerous times. He has been nominated five times for Academy Awards and won once for Best Supporting Actor in the movie Million Dollar Baby. He was nominated five times for the Golden Globes and won once for Driving Miss Daisy. As of 2018, he has been nominated 79 times and won 61 of them. (source)
8. Morgan Freeman is the first American to record a par on the “Extreme 19th” hole at Legend Golf & Safari Resort.
In 2008, Morgan Freeman was involved in a car crash that caused three of the fingers from his left arm to be paralyzed. Although doctors tried their best, they were unable to repair the damages from the crash. Initially, doctors thought that the nerve damages will heal themselves by 2011. Sadly, it did not and today, he wears compression gloves and plays his favorite sport; golf. Freeman who is left handed, found it extremely difficult to do things since the world is built for right handed people. In 2009, a year after the accident and far from recovering, Freeman went on to play golf on Legend Golf & Safari Resort one-handed; only to achieve the highest and longest par 3 hole in the world. (source)
9. While serving in the Air Force, he was sent to jail because he insisted on sticking with his friend.
Morgan Freeman is a man of honor. While serving in the Air Force, Freeman and his friend were stopped by officers who asked for their ID’s. His friend had forgotten his pass and thinking that they were AWOL, the officers arrested his friend but let him go. Freeman however insisted on leaving his friend and so, was thrown in jail for four days. He recalls the part of his life in an interview: “Have you ever been in jail? I have. I was a kid. I was in the Air Force and I’d gone with a friend of mine to Los Angeles. When we left the base, he left his Class-A pass sitting on the table. We were hitchhiking because he was out of money. I had a little money, but I didn’t want to take the bus and leave him. The police stopped us on the freeway. He asked both of us for ID and I had mine and my friend didn’t have his. The cop said, ‘Well, we’re gonna have to call the shore patrol because we don’t know if you’re AWOL.’ He told me, ‘You got money–you take a bus.’ I said, ‘I’m with him.’ So I went to jail for four days”. (source)
10. He’s a beekeeper. In 2014, Freeman appeared on the “Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon”, and explained how he turned his 124-acre ranch in Mississippi into a beekeeping sanctuary. Surprisingly, he doesn’t need to wear a special outfit to protect himself because he resonates with the bees.
In the past decade, the bee population has been steadily declining. Without them, there’s no pollination and no pollination means no flowering plants. Concerned about them, Freeman made his 124-acre ranch in Mississippi a refuge for them. He them imported 26 beehives, feeds them and does not even use protective gear while he’s around the hives. During a media tour for the film “Lucy”, Freeman explained the reasons behind his decision to become Morgan Beeman:
“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 adds.
“I’ve not ever used (the beekeeping hat) with my bees,” he says. “They haven’t (stung me) yet, because right now I’m not trying to harvest honey or anything, I’m just feeding them… I think they understand, ‘Hey, don’t bother this guy, he’s got sugar water here.'” (source)