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Fred MacMurray

Fred MacMurray

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Also Known As: Frederick Martin Macmurray Died: November 5, 1991
Born: August 30, 1908 Cause of Death: pneumonia after a battle against cancer
Birth Place: Kankakee, Illinois, USA Profession: actor, saxophonist, singer, cattle rancher, shoe salesman, pea canner

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

For over four decades, actor Fred MacMurray embodied the Everyman in a string of popular comedies and musicals, including "Remember the Night" (1940) and "The Egg and I" (1947) as well as a series of well-loved Disney live-action films like "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961) and the long-running family series "My Three Sons" (ABC/CBS, 1960-1972). A handsome, affable presence, he made an ideal onscreen romantic partner to some of Hollywood's biggest female stars, including Claudette Colbert and Carole Lombard. So believable was MacMurray as upstanding young men that it seemed unlikely that he could play anything else, a notion that was dispelled by his chilly turn as a doomed murderer in Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" (1944). He proved equally successful in portraying the dark flipside to the Everyman, seduced by the lure of power, prestige and sex in "The Caine Mutiny" (1953) and Wilder's "The Apartment" (1960), though by the early 1960s, his status as America's favorite father figure was essentially complete. And if his versatility was often overshadowed by the vast number of audience-friendly pictures to his name, Fred MacMurray remained one of the screen's most likable personalities for...

For over four decades, actor Fred MacMurray embodied the Everyman in a string of popular comedies and musicals, including "Remember the Night" (1940) and "The Egg and I" (1947) as well as a series of well-loved Disney live-action films like "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961) and the long-running family series "My Three Sons" (ABC/CBS, 1960-1972). A handsome, affable presence, he made an ideal onscreen romantic partner to some of Hollywood's biggest female stars, including Claudette Colbert and Carole Lombard. So believable was MacMurray as upstanding young men that it seemed unlikely that he could play anything else, a notion that was dispelled by his chilly turn as a doomed murderer in Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" (1944). He proved equally successful in portraying the dark flipside to the Everyman, seduced by the lure of power, prestige and sex in "The Caine Mutiny" (1953) and Wilder's "The Apartment" (1960), though by the early 1960s, his status as America's favorite father figure was essentially complete. And if his versatility was often overshadowed by the vast number of audience-friendly pictures to his name, Fred MacMurray remained one of the screen's most likable personalities for decades, even long after his death in 1991.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Swarm (1978) Clarence
2.
 Chadwick Family, The (1974) Ned Chadwick
3.
 Charley and the Angel (1973) Charley Appleby
4.
 The Happiest Millionaire (1967) Anthony J. Drexel Biddle
5.
 Follow Me, Boys! (1966) Lemuel Siddons
6.
 Kisses for My President (1964) Thad McCloud
7.
 Son of Flubber (1963) Prof. Ned Brainard
8.
 Bon Voyage! (1962) Harry Willard
9.
 The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) Prof. Ned Brainard
10.
 The Apartment (1960) J. D. "Jeff" Sheldrake
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Lived in Madison, WI and Gilroy, CA before settling in Beaver Dam, WI after parents' separation when he was five
:
Before attending college, formed three-piece musical outfit, Mac's Melody Boys
:
Worked in a pea-canning factory after high school graduation
1926:
Moved to Chicago where he worked as a shoe salesman; continued music career performing with various bands (including "The Royal Purples) as saxophonist and vocalist
1928:
Moved to Los Angeles where he worked in a car painting shop and as a Hollywood extra
1929:
Made record (as singer) with George Olsen's Orchestra; worked as orchestra musician for silent films; joined band The California Collegians as singer-saxophonist-comedian
1929:
Film debut as extra in "Girls Gone Wild"; also bit as rancher in "Tiger Rose"
1929:
Performed in vaudeville
:
Appeared with the California Collegians on Broadway in two revues, "Three's a Crowd" (1930) and "The Third Little Show" and in the Jerome Kern musical, "Roberta" (1934; was also Bob Hope's understudy)
1934:
Signed contract with Paramount
1934:
Film acting debut in "Friends of Mr. Sweeney"
1935:
Achieved stardom with first leading role in "The Gilded Lily"; also marked his first of seven co-starring appearances with Claudette Colbert
:
Appeared on 17 episodes of Lux Radio Theatre during the 1930s
1944:
Attracted considerable critical attention with his change-of-pace role in Billy Wilder's film noir, "Double Indemnity"
1945:
Affiliation with Paramount comes to an end; made one more film there in 1947 and one in 1955, but otherwise largely free-lanced; last film under long-term contract, "Murder, He Says"
1948:
Last co-starring appearance with Claudette Colbert, "Family Honeymoon"
1952:
Starred on radio series, "Bright Star"
1955:
TV debut on "Bachelor's Bride" episode of "G.E. Theatre"
1959:
First film for Walt Disney Productions, "The Shaggy Dog"
:
Starred on the long-running TV sitcom, "My Three Sons"
1967:
Last feature for five years, "The Happiest Millionaire"
1972:
Returned to features for the last of his seven films with Disney, "Charley and the Angel"
1974:
TV-movie debut, "The Chadwick Family" (pilot for unsold series)
1975:
Starred in TV-movie, "The Bermuda Triangle"
:
Went into semi-retirement on his 2,300-acre California ranch where he raised Black Angus cattle in the 1970s
1978:
Last acting role in a feature, "The Swarm"
1985:
Appeared as himself in the feature documentary, "George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Shattuck Military Academy: Quincy , Illinois - 1918 - 1919
Beaver Dam High School: Beaver Dam , Wisconsin - 1919
Carroll College: Waukesha , Wisconsin - 1925 - 1926
Chicago Academy for the Arts: Chicago , Illinois - 1926

Notes

MacMurray's face was allegedly used as the model for comic-strip hero Captain Marvel.

"Whether I play a heavy or a comedian, I alway start out Smiley MacMurray, a decent Rotarian type. If I play a heavy, there comes a point in the film when the audience realizes I'm really a heel." --Fred MacMurray (quoted in NEW YORK TIMES obituary, November 6, 1991)

"I take my movie parts as they come. I don't fly into an emotional storm about them. I just do them. I guess I am an offhand comedian in a natural way." --Fred MacMurray (quoted in NEW YORK TIMES obituary November 6, 1991)

"The ingredients of the MacMurray man are paradoxical but consistent: brittle cheerfulness; an anxious smile that subsides into slyness; a voice that tries to be jocular and easy-going but comes out fraudulent; the semblance of a masculine carriage that turns insubstantial and shifty. In other words, MacMurray is a romantic lead built on quicksands, a hero compelled to betray, a lover likely to desert." --David Thomson in "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" (William Morrow & Company, 1976)

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Lillian Lamont. Actor, dancer, model. Married June 19, 1936 until her death in 1953; met while she was a dancer in the Broadway production of "Roberta" in 1933.
wife:
June Haver. Actor, dancer. Married June 28, 1954 until his death; first met on the set of "Where Do We Go From Here?" (1944); came out of a Catholic convent where she had gone to live after the death of her fiance to marry MacMurray a year after his first wife's death.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Frederick MacMurray. Concert violinist. Was performing in Kankakee, Illinois when MacMurray was born; separated.
mother:
Maleta Martin.
daughter:
Susan Pool. Born c. 1941; adopted with Lillian Lamont.
son:
Robert MacMurray. Hawaii construction company owner. Born c. 1946; adopted with Lillian Lamont.
daughter:
Laurie Sipma. Advertising company owner. Born c. 1966; twin of Katherine MacMurray; adopted with June Haver; married Marc Gerver on December 28, 2001.
daughter:
Kate MacMurray. Screenwriter. Born c. 1966; twin of Laurie MacMurray; adopted with June Haver.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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