Date of Birth: June 1st 1937
This tall, mellowvoiced black actor, one of the contemporary screen's most accomplished supporting players and character leads, has brought dignity as well as talent to a wide array of movie roles. Long before moviegoers knew his face, children were watching him as Easy Reader on the popular PBS TV series "The Electric Company."
Freeman was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Morgan Porterfield Freeman, Sr., a barber who died in 1961 from liver cirrhosis, and Mayme Edna (née Revere), a cleaner. He has three older siblings. Freeman's family moved frequently during his childhood, living in Greenwood, Mississippi, Gary, Indiana, and finally Chicago, Illinois. Freeman made his acting debut at age eight, playing the lead role in a school play. At age twelve, he won a statewide drama competition, and while in high school performed in a radio show based in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1955, he turned down a partial drama scholarship from Jackson State University, opting to work as a mechanic in the United States Air Force.
Although his first credited film appearance was in 1971's Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow?, Freeman first became known in the American media through roles on the soap opera Another World and the PBS kids' show The Electric Company, (notably as Easy Reader and Vincent the Vegetable Vampire) which he claimed he should have left earlier than planned.
After considerable stage and TV experience, Freeman stunned movie audiences (and earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination) as the suavely vicious pimp in Street Smart (1987). Prior to that, he'd had small parts in Brubaker (1980), Eyewitness(1981), Teachers (1984), Marie, a True Story and That Was Then, This Is Now (both 1985).
Since attaining stardom, he has played a number of uplifting characters in Clean and Sober (1988), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). Freeman was tireless in 1989, playing a Civil War sergeant in Glory a disciplineminded high school principal in Lean on Me a gentle chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy (Oscar nomination for Best Actor), and even squeezing in a change of pace