I had never heard of Morgan Woodward when my wife and I moved to Arlington in 2003. I had seen a number of movies he had appeared in, but he played supporting roles, and I never bothered much about who the supporting actors were; I paid attention only to the stars.
I soon heard of him, however, and learned that he was a local celebrity, well known to many Arlington residents. J.W, Dunlop, who lived nearby and whom I soon met, told me some yarns about Tommy Woodward, as he called him. It turned out that we had purchased the house in which the Woodward family had lived for many years.
As I understand it, when Thomas Morgan Woodward became an actor, there was another actor named Thomas Woodward, and so to avoid confusion he chose to use his middle name as his professional name.
He was a very successful and popular supporting actor who played many roles. He was often cast as a villain, but in real life he was a very charming person.
When you read the obituaries that were published after his death in February, you read that he was born in Fort Worth, which is no doubt true. But that is surely because Fort Worth was better equipped at that time with medical facilities, particularly maternity care, than was Arlington. He was born to an Arlington family living in a house now located within HANA’s boundaries. He was the third of five sons born to his parents, Dr. Valin Woodward and his wife Frances. He was the great grandson of Rice Woods Collins, one of the early settlers of Arlington. His grandmother was the eldest daughter of Mr. Collins. His grandfather, Jesse McKinley, owned the hardware store in Arlington in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. His mother was the McKinleys youngest daughter. So he was a member of one of the oldest Arlington families, and his roots in Arlington were deep.
Morgan Woodward expressed a wish some years ago to be buried in the McKinley family plot in the city-owned Arlington Cemetery on Mary Street, and had determined that there was available space. So on June 15 in a private family ceremony his ashes were interred in the McKinley family plot next to his parents and grandparents. And so he has now returned to what he considered his home, here within HANA’s boundaries.