537 N Las Palmas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA
Elliot W. Morgan (September 26, 1906 - November 9, 1999) was the head of research at MGM. He was friend with Agnes de Mille and when she went to England, he sent two introductory letters to people he had known in Oxford, writer Elizabeth Bowen and Ramon Reed.
Most decorators had nothing but good fortune working in the industry. The liberty they enjoyed spilled over into their sister department, research, where Elliot Morgan was chief for some thirty years. Morgan had studied library science and graduated from Oxford. In 1933, when F. Scott Fitzgerald was writing scenarious at MGM, he asked for an assistant, someone who could speak "English English." A friend in the research department suggested Elliot, who quickly rose through the ranks to top dog.
Frank Lysinger was a messenger boy at MGM in the later 1930s. "I got to see everybody and everything," he remembered, and that included the various studio departments. Each had its own traditions and atmosphere, Lysinger remembered: in the prop department, there was always "lots of gaiety," with set decorators Henry Grace, Jack Moore, Richard Pefferle, Keogh Gleason, and research chief Elliot Morgan camping it up and carrying on. "Oh, my, yes, camp humor certainly did bounce off the walls," Morgan concurred.
The bar of "circumspection" was therefore correspondingly relative: in the property department, Elliot Morgan recalled sometimes paging Henry Grace with a campy "Calling Grace Moore", but every Friday night, gay screenwriter George Oppenheimer dutifully attended the prizefights at the American Legion with his heterosexual coworkers.
Morgan was still a camp at the age of 92, when interviewed by William J. Mann. "Whenever anyone wanted to know what kind of jewelry was popular in the 1920s, or whatever, they'd come to me," he said proudly. "I had all the answers. We had an enormous library. There wasn't any particular place for use so they put us in the art department with the set decorators."
"Everybody in research at MGM was gay except for the two women secretaries," said George Schönbrunn, who started in the department in the 1950s, when it had five employees. That would include James Earie, who earlier had been a researcher at Fox and who would take over as chief when Elliot Morgan retired in the 1960s.
My published books:
BBACK TO HOME PAGE