Moroni Olsen

His place of birth on June 27, 1889 explains Moroni Olsen’s unusual first name: Ogden is in Utah, a state where the Mormon religion is largely prominent. It just so happens that, in the Book of Mormon, Moroni is an angel that supposedly presented Joseph Smith with golden plate. Unsurprisingly, Moroni’s father was a Bishop.

Moroni created a troupe of players that bore his name and toured theaters in and around Salt Lake City. He then worked on Broadway and began his Hollywood career in 1934 as an uncredited religious dignitary in Death Takes a Holiday. The next year, he landed his first credited role as Porthos in the first American talking version of The Three Musketeers. His next role is none other that the legendary Buffalo Bill opposite Barbara Stanwyck in Annie Oakley.

In 1936, he plays John Knox in John Ford’s Mary of Scotland with, among the extras, Jean de Briac. He also shares the screen with Billy Gilbert in Grand Jury.

In 1937, he does uncredited voice work in The Soldier and the Lady. That skill comes in handy when he is chosen to lend his voice to the slave in the magic mirror in Snow White.

His roles after that are usually minor, but sometimes in very important productions such as Notorious where he plays an insensitive government agent oppositive Cary Grant, or Mildred Pierce in which he plays Inspector Peterson. Like Adriana Caselotti, his voice can be heard in It’s a Wonderful Life as an angel. Vincente Minelli hires him twice for the role of Herbert Dunstan in Father of the Bride and Father’s Little Dividend. Eighteen years later, he becomes Porthos again in At Sword’s Point. He remains active in films and TV until the end.

Moroni Olsen died of a stroke on November 22, 1954 in Los Angeles, California.