On this date in 1937, Morgan Freeman was born in Memphis, Tenn. The now-famous actor got his start in drama at age 12, when, as a punishment for teasing a girl in class, he was forced to participate in a drama competition. He was a natural and continued to be involved in theater throughout middle school and high school. Although he loved acting and was very talented, he initially chose to enter the Air Force after school. But after a few years, he realized it wasn’t a good fit and began to pursue acting professionally, first in Los Angeles and then in New York City.
Freeman’s first big break as an actor came in 1967, when he was cast in an all-black Broadway production of “Hello, Dolly!” He continued to appear in theater productions throughout the 1960s and ’70s. He made his television debut in the children’s TV series, “The Electric Company.” It wasn’t until the late ’80s that Freeman began to appear regularly in hit movies, including “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) and “Deep Impact” (1998).
In 2005, Freeman won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Million Dollar Baby,” directed by Clint Eastwood. He teamed up with Eastwood again in 2009 to play Nelson Mandela in the movie “Invictus.” He has over 100 film credits to his name.Freeman was married twice, to Jeanette Adair Bradshaw from 1967-1979 and to Myrna Colley Lee from 1984-2010. He and Myrna Colley Lee adopted his step-granddaughter from his first marriage and raised her as their daughter.
Although Morgan Freeman portrayed “God” in the 2003 comedy, “Bruce Almighty,” he does not consider himself religious. The actor has been very open about the fact that he does not believe in a higher power: “Well here’s a scientific question: Has anybody ever seen hard evidence? What we get is theories from our earlier prophets. Now, people who think that God invented us think that the Earth can’t be more than 6,000 years old. So I guess it’s a question of belief. My belief system doesn’t support such a creator as such, as we can call God, who created us in His/Her/Its image.”(interview, The Wrap, June 2012).
“The highest power is the human mind. That’s where God came from and my belief in God is my belief in myself.” —interview, The Daily Beast, January 2014