The Wizard of Oz and Angostura Bitters
16 October 2013 *Updated (R•021514-Wuppermann letter added)
His mother was born in the U.S. of English descent. The family earned its wealth distributing Angostura Bitters, permitting Frank to attend Cornell University where he joined Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity.
Two things I didn’t know…until last night. Frank Morgan (born Wuppermann) from The Wizard of Oz, played five parts in the movie. I suppose I just thought it was two parts, the black & white medicine man, and of course, the wizard. I also did not know that the Morgan aka Wuppermann family earned its wealth distributing Angostura Bitters which is a concentrated bitters made of water, 44.7% alcohol, herbs and spices. The recipe was developed as a tonic by German Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, a Surgeon General in Simon Bolivar’s army in Venezuela, who began to sell it in 1824 and established a distillery for the purpose in 1830. Siegert was based in the town of Angostura, now Ciudad Bolívar, and used locally available ingredients, perhaps aided by botanical knowledge of the local Amerindians.
Frank Morgan (born Frank Phillip Wuppermann; June 1, 1890 – September 18, 1949) was an American actor best known for playing five separate characters, including the title character, in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Morgan was born Francis Phillip Wuppermann in New York City, the youngest of eleven children (six boys and five girls) born to Josephine Wright (née Hancox) and George Diogracia Wuppermann. His father was born in Venezuela, of German and Spanish descent, and was raised in Hamburg, Germany. His mother was born in the U.S. of English descent. The family earned its wealth distributing Angostura Bitters, permitting Frank to attend Cornell University where he joined Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. He then followed his older brother Ralph Morgan into show business, first on the Broadway stage and then into motion pictures.
* See Angostura Dry Ginger Ale update at bottom of post.