Moroni Olsen: American actor (1889 - 1954) | Biography
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Moroni Olsen
American actor

Moroni Olsen

Moroni Olsen
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
Was Actor Stage actor Film actor
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 27 June 1889, Ogden, Weber County, Utah, USA
Death 22 November 1954, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 65 years)
Star sign Cancer
Mother: Martha Hoverholst
Father: Edward Arenholt Olsen
University of Utah
Weber State University
The details


Moroni Olsen (June 27, 1889 – November 22, 1954) was an American actor.

Early life and education

Moroni Olsen was born on June 27, 1889, in Ogden, Utah, to Mormon parents Edward Arenholt Olsen and Martha Hoverholst, who named him after the Moroni found in the Book of Mormon. Some sources have claimed that Olsen's birth name was John Willard Clawson, but there appears to be no support for this claim.

Olsen studied at Weber Stake Academy, the predecessor of Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He then went to study at the University of Utah, where one of his teachers was Maud May Babcock. During World War I, he sold war bonds for the United States Navy.


In 1923, Olsen organized the "Moroni Olsen Players" out of Ogden. They performed at both Ogden's Orpheum Theatre and at various other locations spread from Salt Lake City to Seattle.

After having worked on Broadway, Olsen made his acting debut in 1934, in a minor, uncredited role in Mitchell Leisen's Death Takes a Holiday. His first film credit was the 1935 adaptation of The Three Musketeers in which he portrayed the character of "Porthos" alongside Walter AbelPaul Lukas, and Margot Grahame

He later played a different role in a 1939 comedy version of the story, starring Don Ameche as "D'Artagnan" and the Ritz Brothers as three dimwitted lackeys who are forced to substitute for the musketeers, who have drunk themselves into a stupor.

Olsen's most famous role was the voice of the Slave in The Magic Mirror in Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). He also provided the voice of the senior angel in It's a Wonderful Life.

Olsen kept busy in the 1940s and 1950s with such films as Santa Fe Trail (1940), Sundown Jim (1942), Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944), Night in Paradise(1946), So This Is Love (1953) and Marry Me Again (1953). 

He also guest-starred in a few episodes of I Love Lucy (1952), General Electric Theater (1954), December Bride (1954), and The Halls of Ivy (1955). His last film was Douglas Sirk's biographical drama Sign of the Pagan in which he played "Pope Leo I" alongside the leading cast of Jeff ChandlerJack Palance, and Ludmilla Tchérina.


Olsen died on November 22, 1954, in Los Angeles, California. He was 65.

Broadway roles

Selected filmography

  • The Three Musketeers (1935) as Porthos
  • Annie Oakley (1935) as William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody
  • Seven Keys to Baldpate (1935) as Mayor Jim Cargan
  • We're Only Human (1935) as Inspector J.R. Curran
  • Yellow Dust (1936) as Missouri
  • The Farmer in the Dell (1936) as Chester Hart
  • Two in Revolt (1936) as Cyrus Benton
  • The Witness Chair (1936) as Lieutenant Poole
  • M'Liss (1936) as Jake
  • Mary of Scotland (1936) as John Knox
  • Grand Jury (1936) as Davis, Taylor's Bodyguard
  • Mummy's Boys (1936) as Dr. Edward Sterling
  • The Plough and the Stars (1936) as Irish Leader
  • The Soldier and the Lady (1937) as Tartar Chief (voice, uncredited)
  • The Life of Emile Zola (1937) as Capt. Guignet (uncredited)
  • The Last Gangster (1937) as Detective Danny Shea (uncredited)
  • Manhattan Merry-Go-Round (1937) as Jonathan (uncredited)
  • Adventure's End (1937) as First Mate Rand Husk
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) as Magic Mirror (voice, uncredited)
  • Gold Is Where You Find It (1938) as Senator Hearst
  • Kidnapped (1938) as Douglas
  • Marie Antoinette (1938) as Bearded Leader of the People (uncredited)
  • That Certain Age (1938) as Fullerton's Associate (uncredited)
  • There Goes My Heart (1938) as Fisherman (uncredited)
  • Submarine Patrol (1938) as The Fleet Captain
  • Kentucky (1938) as John Dillon – 1938
  • Homicide Bureau (1939) as Capt. Haines
  • Off the Record (1939) as Juvenal Court Judge
  • The Three Musketeers (1939) as Bailiff
  • Rose of Washington Square (1939) as Major Buck Russell
  • Sons of Liberty (1939, Short) as Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance (uncredited)
  • Code of the Secret Service (1939) as The Friar
  • Susannah of the Mounties (1939) as Supt. Andrew Standing
  • Dust Be My Destiny (1939) as Slim Jones – Defense Attorney
  • Allegheny Uprising (1939) as Calhoon
  • That's Right—You're Wrong (1939) as Jonathan Forbes
  • Barricade (1939) as Shanghai Managing Editor
  • Invisible Stripes (1939) as The Warden
  • Brother Rat and a Baby (1940) as Maj. Terry
  • Virginia City (1940) as Dr. Robert Cameron
  • If I Had My Way (1940) as Mr. Blair
  • Brigham Young (1940) as Doc Richards
  • East of the River (1940) as Judge R.D. Davis
  • Life with Henry (1940) as Sylvanus Q. Sattherwaite
  • Santa Fe Trail (1940) as Robert E. Lee
  • Three Sons o' Guns (1941) as Philip Talbot
  • Dive Bomber (1941) as Senior Surgeon at San Diego
  • One Foot in Heaven (1941) as Dr. John Romer
  • Dangerously They Live (1941) as Mr. Goodwin
  • Nazi Agent (1942) as Brenner
  • Sundown Jim (1942) as Andrew Barr
  • Ship Ahoy (1942) as Inspector Davis (uncredited)
  • My Favorite Spy (1942) as Major Allen
  • The Glass Key (1942) as Ralph Henry
  • Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1942) as Dr. Olcott
  • Reunion in France (1942) as Paul Grebeau
  • Air Force (1943) as Col. Blake
  • Mission to Moscow (1943) as Col. Faymonville
  • We've Never Been Licked (1943) as Commandant
  • Madame Curie (1943) as President of Businessman's Board (uncredited)
  • The Song of Bernadette (1943) as Chaplain (uncredited)
  • Buffalo Bill (1944) as Sen. Frederici
  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944) as Caliph Hassan
  • Cobra Woman (1944) as MacDonald
  • Roger Touhy, Gangster (1944) as Riley
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) as General (uncredited)
  • The Valley of Decision (1945) as Richard Kane (uncredited)
  • Pride of the Marines (1945) as Capt. Burroughs
  • Behind City Lights (1945) as Curtis Holbrook
  • Mildred Pierce (1945) as Inspector Peterson
  • Week-End at the Waldorf (1945) as House Detective Blake
  • Don't Fence Me In (1945) as Henry Bennett, aka Harry Benson
  • From This Day Forward (1946) as Tim Bagley (uncredited)
  • Night in Paradise (1946) as High Priest
  • The Walls Came Tumbling Down (1946) as Bishop Martin
  • Boys' Ranch (1946) as Judge Henderson
  • Notorious (1946) as Walter Beardsley
  • The Strange Woman (1946) as Rev. Thatcher
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946) as Senior Angel (voice, uncredited)
  • The Beginning or the End (1947) as Dr. Arthur H. Compton
  • The Long Night (1947) as Chief of Police Bob McManus
  • Possessed (1947) as Dr. Ames
  • Life with Father (1947) as Dr. Humphries
  • Black Gold (1947) as Don Toland
  • That Hagen Girl (1947) as Trenton Gateley
  • High Wall (1947) as Dr. Philip Dunlap
  • Call Northside 777 (1948) as Parole Board Chairman
  • Up in Central Park (1948) as Big Jim Fitts
  • Command Decision (1948) as Congressman Stone
  • The Fountainhead (1949) as Chairman
  • Task Force (1949) as Adm. Ames
  • Samson and Delilah (1949) as Targil
  • Father of the Bride (1950) as Herbert Dunstan
  • Payment on Demand (1951) as Arnold Barton (uncredited)
  • Father's Little Dividend (1951) as Herbert Dunstan
  • No Questions Asked (1951) as Henry Manston
  • Submarine Command (1951) as Rear Adm. Joshua Rice
  • Lone Star (1952) as Sam Houston
  • At Sword's Point (1952) as Porthos
  • Washington Story (1952) as Speaker of the House
  • So This Is Love (1953) as Arnold Reuben (uncredited)
  • Marry Me Again (1953) as Mr. Courtney
  • The Long, Long Trailer (1954) as Mr. Tewitt
  • Sign of the Pagan (1954) as Pope Leo I
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