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Helen Morgan


A vintage torch singer who was simply a film and stage actress who appeared in musicals like Display Boat. With tone of voice lessons from her years as a child, she started gathering notice with shows across the speakeasies of Chicago. She starred as Julie LaVerne in the musical Display Motorboat both on Broadway and in two film adaptations. She was created in Danville, Illinois and remained with her mom through two failed relationships before she converted eighteen. Oscar Hammerstein, along with Jerome Kern, had written the musical Showboat, which produced her a celebrity.

Quick Facts

Full Name Helen Morgan
Date Of Birth August 2, 1900
Died October 9, 1941, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Place Of Birth Danville, IL
Profession Movie Actress
Nationality American
Spouse Lloyd Johnston, Maurice Maschke
Children Elaine Danglo
Parents Lulu Lang Riggins, Frank Riggins
Awards Grammy Hall of Fame
Star Sign Leo

  • Facts
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1She became very famous in the 1920s and was popular throughout the 1930s, but she is not well-remembered today, except perhaps by musical theatre buffs. This is due partly to the fact that all her recordings date from the 1920s and 1930s and they are not often found in stores, but it is also partly due to the fact that her best and most often seen film, the 1936 version of Show Boat (1936), is not shown on television as often as it could be (the 1951 Technicolor remake, Show Boat (1951), with Ava Gardner playing Ms. Morgan's role, has been frequently shown on TV, instead). Ms. Morgan's other films are very rarely -or never- seen, so relatively few film enthusiasts are acquainted with her work.
2She was spoofed in the animated cartoon The CooCoo Nut Grove (1936). In it, her animated counterpart sings "The Little Things You Used to Do" while sitting atop a piano and weeping. Before long, everyone else in the club is weeping uncontrollably and the club is on its way to becoming flooded.
3Best remembered on screen as Julie in Show Boat (1936), repeating her 1927 Broadway role.
4Made her talking picture debut (after uncredited appearances in two silent films) in the hastily put together prologue to the 1929 part-talking version of Show Boat (1929), in which she sang the songs she performed in the stage version, but did not actually play the role of Julie Laverne in the film. This was played by Alma Rubens. She finally got the chance to play Julie on-screen in the first all-talking film version of Show Boat (1936). Unfortunately, it was her last film. Alcoholism caused her death five years later.



The Doctor1934Short
Manhattan Lullaby1933Short
The Gigolo Racket1931ShortHelen Marlowe
Roadhouse Nights1930Lola Fagan
Glorifying the American Girl1929Helen Morgan - Appearance in Revue Scenes
Applause1929Kitty Darling
Show Boat1929Julie LaVerne [prologue]
Six Cylinder Love1923Extra (uncredited)
The Heart Raider1923Minor Role (uncredited)
Show Boat1936Julie
Frankie and Johnnie1936Frankie
Go Into Your Dance1935Luana Wells
Sweet Music1935Helen Morgan
Marie Galante1934MissTapia
You Belong to Me1934Bonnie Kay



Hollywood Singing and Dancing: A Musical History - The 1920s: The Dawn of the Hollywood Musical2008Video documentary performer: "What Wouldn't I Do for That Man?" - uncredited
American Pop1981performer: "Bill"
Alice Sweet Alice1976performer: "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "Something to Remember You By"
The Twentieth Century1961TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
Show Boat1936performer: "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" 1927, "Bill" 1927 - uncredited
Frankie and Johnnie1936performer: "Give Me a Heart to Sing To" - uncredited
Go Into Your Dance1935"The Little Things You Used to Do" 1935, uncredited / performer: "The Little Things You Used to Do" 1935 - uncredited
Sweet Music1935performer: "I See Two Lovers" - uncredited
Marie Galante1934performer: "Serves Me Right for Treating You Wrong"
The Gigolo Racket1931Short performer: "Nobody Breaks My Heart", "I Know He's Mine" - uncredited
Glorifying the American Girl1929performer: "What Wouldn't I Do for That Man?" 1929 - uncredited
Applause1929performer: "What Wouldn't I Do for That Man?" - uncredited
Show Boat1929performer: "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" 1927, "Bill" 1927 - uncredited



Screen Snapshots, Series 14, No. 11934Documentary shortHerself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

Out of My Dreams: Oscar Hammerstein II2012TV Movie documentaryJulie La Verne
Broadway: The American Musical2004TV Mini-Series documentaryJulie LaVerne
Biography1996TV Series documentaryJulie LaVerne in 'Show Boat'
The Show Boat Story1989TV Movie documentaryJulie LaVerne (clip from 1936 film of "Show Boat") (uncredited)
Musical Comedy Tonight III1985TV MovieJulie La Verne
American Pop1981Singer in Raided Nightclub (uncredited)
The Twentieth Century1961TV Series documentaryHerself
The Golden Twenties1950DocumentaryHerself

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