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Morgan, Clarke (1913-1968) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Morgan, Clarke (1913-1968)
Variant Name: Morgan, Grover Wilson

Historical Note:

Clarke Morgan was born on April 20, 1913 in Maunie, Illinois.  His given name was Grover Wilson Morgan but he took the name Clarke as his professional name.  His parents were Grace Jones Morgan and Grover Cleveland Morgan, and his siblings were George, Robert, and Sadye Margaret.  He graduated from Carmi High School.

After a short unsuccessful tenure at the University of Illinois in 1932, Clarke Morgan moved to Carbondale in 1933 and enrolled in Southern Illinois Normal University.  As a student he composed the university’s Alma Mater “Southern Alma Mater” and the fight song “Go Southern Go!”  He also composed the music for many university theatrical productions.  While in Carbondale he met Elsie Faner, sister of SINU English professor Robert D. Faner, and they married on July 30, 1935.

Clarke and Elsie Morgan did not graduate from SINU and moved to St. Louis, MO shortly after marriage.  Morgan was a staff musician with the KMOX radio station and performed around the city.  They welcomed their daughter, Margaret, on April 7, 1938.  About 1939, the family then moved to Erie, Pennsylvania where Clarke gave piano recitals and played in clubs.  After a short time they moved to New York City in 1940.

While in New York, he played organ, piano, and accordion in the Cocktail Lounge of the Lombardy Hotel, and after closed played at Spivy’s Roof where he shared a piano with a young Liberace.  After being drafted in 1944 and serving in World War II, he returned to New York and continued his music career.  In the 1950s he was music director for “Wendy Warren and the News,” a radio show on which his song “My Home Town” was the theme.  He later composed music for television’s first soap operate “The First Hundred Years.”  He also worked on Golden Windows (1954-1955), From These Roots (1958-1961), and Another World (1964-1999).  During this time he continued to supplement his income from personal appearances at nightclubs, cabarets, lounges, and the like.  Morgan’s music was registered and copyrighted through House of Morgan and Maunie Music, Inc.  He died on December 28, 1968.

Sources: Clarke Morgan Song Book, biographical sketch by Margaret Morgan Humm Klienfeld; Gordon Pruett, "Manuie man behind SIU music," (accessed May 29, 2015).
Note Author: Matt Gorzalski

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