Audie Murphy


Actor
Audie Murphy

About

Also Known As
Audie Leon Murphy
Birth Place
Texas, USA
Born
June 20, 1924
Died
May 28, 1971
Cause of Death
Plane Crash

Biography

Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of World War II, parlayed his celebrity, boyish good looks and natural manner into a successful Hollywood career that encompassed 44 feature films, mostly Westerns and war movies. He also enjoyed success as a composer of country music and as the author of To Hell and Back, a 1949 memoir of his wartime experiences that was filmed in 1955 ...

Photos & Videos

Ride a Crooked Trail - British Front-of-House Stills
Drums Across the River - British Front-of-House Stills
Ride Clear of Diablo - British Front-of-House Stills

Family & Companions

Wanda Hendrix
Wife
Actor. Born on November 3, 1928; married in 1949; divorced on April 20, 1951; later married Robert Stack's brother; died in February 1981.
Pamela Murphy
Wife
Married on April 23, 1951.

Bibliography

"Last of the Cowboy Heroes: The Westerns of Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, and Audie Murphy"
Robert Nott, McFarland (2000)

Biography

Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of World War II, parlayed his celebrity, boyish good looks and natural manner into a successful Hollywood career that encompassed 44 feature films, mostly Westerns and war movies. He also enjoyed success as a composer of country music and as the author of To Hell and Back, a 1949 memoir of his wartime experiences that was filmed in 1955 with Murphy playing himself. World War II cartoonist Bill Mauldin summed up his appeal: "In him, we all recognized the straight, raw stuff, uncut and fiery as the day it left the still." Murphy, always comfortable in action scenes, learned the craft of film acting as he went along and eventually became a skilled actor, especially in the role of anti-hero. His quiet, understated style and coiled manner may be seen as a forerunner to the "cool" later displayed by Steve McQueen and others.

Audie Leon Murphy (1924-1971) was born in Kingston, Texas, to sharecroppers of Irish descent. He was the sixth of 12 children, two of whom did not survive to adulthood. His father abandoned the family while Audie was still in grade school, and the young Audie dropped out of fifth grade to help support his family by doing farm work. He became a crack shot with his rifle, bringing home squirrels, rabbits and birds to help feed the family. He was said to have remarked to a friend, "If I don't hit what I shoot at my family won't eat today." While still a youngster he worked at a garage and a radio repair shop.

After the death of his mother in 1941 and the attack on Pearl Harbor later that year, Murphy attempted to enlist in the military but was rejected because he was underage. In June of 1942, claiming to be 18 rather than 17, he succeeded in joining the U.S. Army after being turned down by the Marines and the Navy for being too short (five feet, five-and-a-half inches) and slight of build. In agreement with an older sister, he had arranged for his three youngest siblings to be placed in an orphanage; they would be reclaimed at the end of the war.

Murphy saw his first combat during the 1943 invasion of Sicily and distinguished himself in battle on many occasions in Italy, France, Germany and North Africa. In France, after his best friend was killed by a German soldier, an enraged Murphy single-handedly wiped out a German machine gun crew and used its weapons and grenades to destroy other enemy positions. For these actions he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He eventually was given a battlefield commission to lieutenant. After more displays of daring heroism he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest award for valor, along with the Legion of Merit and more than 30 other U.S. and foreign medals and citations including five from France -- among them that country's highest award, the Legion of Honor. Overall he was credited with destroying six tanks in addition to killing more than 240 German soldiers and wounding and capturing many others.

In early June 1945, after Germany's surrender, Murphy returned to Texas and was greeted with a hero's welcome. He was discharged from active duty in September 1945. His appearance on the cover of Life magazine on July 16, 1945, had caught the attention of film star James Cagney, who sensed Murphy's star potential and invited him to Hollywood. Cagney and his brother Bill, with whom he operated a production company, stated that they saw "poise and assurance, with spiritual overtones," in Murphy's face.

Despite the support of the Cagneys, Murphy's movie career was slow to take off. He finally landed small supporting roles in two 1948 films, Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven, starring Guy Madison; and Beyond Glory, starring Alan Ladd. His first lead came in Bad Boy (1949), produced by Variety Clubs International to promote that organization's work with troubled children. His work in that film landed him a contract with Universal Studios, where he would star in a series of successful low and medium-budget Westerns, usually cast as unassuming heroes or baby-faced outlaws.

The first of these was The Kid from Texas (1950), in which Murphy was cast as Billy the Kid. Others to follow included Sierra (1950), The Cimarron Kid (1952), The Duel at Silver Creek (1952), Drums Across the River (1954), Ride Clear of Diablo (1954), Destry (1954) and Ride a Crooked Trail (1958). He showed his dark side as deadly gunslingers in Night Passage (1957), in which he plays James Stewart's bad-sheep brother; and No Name on the Bullet (1959), in which his mere presence terrorizes an entire town.

Along the way, Murphy landed other roles that brought him recognition as an actor, including the innocent young Union soldier in John Huston's film version of Stephen Crane's Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage (1951), and, of course, To Hell and Back (1955). A modest Murphy had suggested that Tony Curtis play him in the latter film, but he delivers a solid performance as himself, and the movie proved a smash at the box office, becoming one of Universal's biggest earners to date. During this period Murphy was considered one of the studio's "Big Four" male stars, along with Curtis, Rock Hudson and Jeff Chandler.

Murphy's most accomplished performance may have come in The Quiet American (1958), in which he takes the title role in the company of top-rank talent. Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed this screen version of the Graham Greene novel set in pre-war Indochina, and Michael Redgrave costars as the cynical British journalist whose vision for the Vietnamese people is at odds with Murphy's seemingly naive intentions. Another prestigious project was John Huston's Western The Unforgiven (1960), with Murphy as the intolerant, hot-headed brother in an unlikely family that also includes Burt Lancaster, Lillian Gish, and Audrey Hepburn as an adopted Indian maiden. Murphy's final film role was as Jesse James in Budd Boetticher's A Time for Dying (1969), it was his 33rd Western.

He also acted in episodic television, notably the NBC-TV Western series Whispering Smith (1961), with Murphy in the title role formerly played by Alan Ladd in a 1948 film. Some of the country-Western songs Murphy wrote became quite popular including "Shutters and Boards" and "When the Wind Blows in Chicago." His songs were recorded by such singers as Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold and Charley Pride. He also became a successful rancher and raised quarter horses.

Murphy married actress Wanda Hendrix in 1949, and they made one film together, Sierra. They were divorced by the time the film was released, with Hendrix charging mental cruelty. She would speak later of his struggles with depression and other symptoms of what was then called "Battle Fatigue" and is now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Murphy became an advocate for returning veterans who faced mental-health problems. In 1951 he married Pamela Archer, with whom he had two sons. They were still married at the time of his death in a plane crash in 1971, when he was only 46. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington Cemetery, where the only other grave that has been more visited is that of President John F. Kennedy.

by Roger Fristoe

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

A Time for Dying (1982)
Jesse James
A Time For Dying (1971)
Jesse James
40 Guns to Apache Pass (1967)
Captain Coburn
Trunk to Cairo (1966)
Mike Merrick
The Texican (1966)
Jess Carlin
Gunpoint (1966)
Chad Lucas
Arizona Raiders (1965)
Clint
War Is Hell (1964)
Narrator of introduction
Apache Rifles (1964)
Jeff Stanton
The Quick Gun (1964)
Clint Cooper
Bullet for a Badman (1964)
Logan Keliher
Showdown (1963)
Chris Foster
Gunfight at Comanche Creek (1963)
Gifford
Six Black Horses (1962)
Ben Lane
Battle at Bloody Beach (1961)
Craig Benson
Posse From Hell (1961)
Banner Cole
The Unforgiven (1960)
Cash Zachary
Seven Ways from Sundown (1960)
Seven [Ways from Sundown] Jones
Hell Bent for Leather (1960)
Clay [Santell]
Cast a Long Shadow (1959)
Matt Brown
No Name on the Bullet (1959)
John Gant
The Wild and the Innocent (1959)
Yancy [Hawks]
Ride a Crooked Trail (1958)
Joe Maybe, also known as U.S. Marshal Jim Noonan
The Gun Runners (1958)
Sam Martin
The Quiet American (1958)
The American
The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957)
Lt. Frank Hewitt
Night Passage (1957)
The Utica Kid [also known as Lee McLaine]
Joe Butterfly (1957)
Private John Woodley
Walk the Proud Land (1956)
John Philip Clum
World in My Corner (1956)
Tommy Shea
To Hell and Back (1955)
Audie Murphy
Destry (1955)
Tom Destry
Ride Clear of Diablo (1954)
Clay O'Mara
Drums Across the River (1954)
Gary Brannon
Column South (1953)
Lt. Jed Sayre
Tumbleweed (1953)
Jim Harvey
Gunsmoke (1953)
Reb Kittredge
The Cimarron Kid (1952)
Bill Doolin, also known as The Cimarron Kid
The Duel at Silver Creek (1952)
Luke Cromwell, also known as The Silver Kid
The Red Badge of Courage (1951)
"The Youth"
Sierra (1950)
Ring Hassard [also known as Ring Harris]
The Kid from Texas (1950)
Billy the Kid
Kansas Raiders (1950)
Jesse James
Bad Boy (1949)
Danny Lester
Texas, Brooklyn & Heaven (1948)
Copy boy
Beyond Glory (1948)
Thomas

Producer (Feature Film)

A Time for Dying (1982)
Producer
A Time For Dying (1971)
Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
Advisor

Life Events

Photo Collections

Ride a Crooked Trail - British Front-of-House Stills
Ride a Crooked Trail - British Front-of-House Stills
Drums Across the River - British Front-of-House Stills
Drums Across the River - British Front-of-House Stills
Ride Clear of Diablo - British Front-of-House Stills
Ride Clear of Diablo - British Front-of-House Stills
Ride Clear of Diablo - Behind-the-Scenes Photo
Ride Clear of Diablo - Behind-the-Scenes Photo
Ride a Crooked Trail - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Universal's Ride a Crooked Trail (1958), starring Audie Murphy, Joanna Moore, and Gia Scala.
The Quick Gun - Title Lobby Card
Here is the Title Lobby Card from The Quick Gun (1964), starring Audie Murphy. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Quick Gun - Movie Posters
Here are a few movie posters from The Quick Gun (1964), starring Audie Murphy.
Tumbleweed - Movie Poster
Here is a movie poster from Tumbleweed (1953), starring Audie Murphy and Lori Nelson.
The Guns of Fort Petticoat - Movie Posters
Here are a variety of movie posters for Columbia Pictures' The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957), starring Audie Murphy and Kathryn Grant.
Drums Across the River - Publicity Stills
Drums Across the River - Publicity Stills
Drums Across the River - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Drums Across the River - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Ride Clear of Diablo - Movie Posters
Here are a few original movie posters for Universal Pictures' Ride Clear of Diablo (1954), starring Audie Murphy and Dan Duryea.
Sierra - Movie Posters
Here are a few original movie posters for Universal Pictures' Sierra (1950), starring Audie Murphy.
Drums Across the River - Movie Poster
Here is a window card movie poster from Universal Pictures' Drums Across the River (1954), starring Audie Murphy.
Ride a Crooked Trail - Movie Posters
Here are a few original movie posters for Universal Pictures' Ride a Crooked Trail (1958), starring Audie Murphy, Gia Scala, and Walter Matthau.

Videos

Movie Clip

Quiet American, The (1958) - Ava Gardner Should Be Waiting Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz on location in Vietnam, Michael Redgrave as journalist Fowler, Audie Murphy the title character, whose mission isn’t defined, waylaid en route to Saigon, quips and insights from Graham Greene’s original novel, in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Quiet American, 1958.
Quick Gun, The (1964) - We Killed Ya' Legal After failing to win back his ex-girl, back-in-town gunfighter Clint Cooper (Audie Murphy) is accosted by rancher Morrison (Walter Sande), whose son he killed, and his angry nephew Rick (Rex Holman), in The Quick Gun, 1964.
Quick Gun, The (1964) - Like Seeing A Ghost The reason gunfighter Clint (Audie Murphy) has returned to Shelby, Montana (An actual town!) is revealed, as he visits schoolteacher Helen (Merry Anders), in The Quick Gun, 1964.
Quick Gun, The (1964) - I'm Kind Of Against Dying Gunslinger Clint Cooper (Audie Murphy) headed back to his hometown, has been diverted by a gang led by his old partner Spangler (Ted de Corsia), early in The Quick Gun, 1964.
Guns Of Fort Petticoat - Use Your Muscles Hewitt (Audie Murphy) stops rowdy Kettle (Sean McClory) fooling around, then organizes his Texan women-folk (Kathryn Grant, Hope Emerson, Patricia Livingston, Jeanette Nolan et al) against Indian attacks, in The Guns Of Fort Petticoat, 1957.
Guns Of Fort Petticoat - On The Warpath Texan and disgruntled Union officer Hewitt (Audie Murphy) warns his superior (Ainslie Pryor) that attacking Indians will cause revenge raids, to no avail, early in The Guns Of Fort Petticoat, 1957, directed by George Marshall.
Guns Of Fort Petticoat - Strongest Woman Of Them All Texan and Union cavalry deserter Frank Hewitt (Audie Murphy) tries to warn first Hanna (Hope Emerson) then boyish Ann (Kathryn Grant) about Indian revenge raids, in The Guns Of Fort Petticoat, 1957.
Unforgiven, The (1960) - Read What It Says The Kiowah have left a message leading Ben (Burt Lancaster), Cash (Audie Murphy), mother Matilda (Lillian Gish) and especially Rachel (Audrey Hepburn) to a shocking discovery, in John Huston's The Unforgiven, 1960.
Unforgiven, The (1960) - How Much Woman Worth? Ben (Burt Lancaster) confronts the Kiowah indians (led by Carlos Rivas) staking out the family home, and reports back to Cash (Audie Murphy), Matilda (Lillian Gish) and Rachel (Audrey Hepburn), in John Huston's The Unforgiven, 1960.
Unforgiven, The (1960) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Cattle man Ben Zachary (Burt Lancaster) returned from Wichita, presents a piano to sister Rachel (Audrey Hepburn) and mother Matilda (Lillian Gish), who can play, in John Huston's The Unforgiven, 1960.
Walk The Proud Land - Apache Scalps Just-arrived Clum (Audie Murphy) meets scoundrel Stone (Frank Chase), governor Safford (Addison Richards) and General Wade (Morris Ankrum), and works in a mission statement, in an early scene from Walk The Proud Land, 1956.
Walk The Proud Land - There'll Be No Chains Kindly brand-new Indian agent John Philip Clum (Audie Murphy) arrives at the San Carlos Apache reservation with and tangles with Captain Larsen (Ainslie Pryor), Anne Bancroft making a brief appearance, in Walk The Proud Land< 1956.

Trailer

Family

Emmett Murphy
Father
Tenant farmer. Alcoholic who abandoned family when Murphy was a boy.
Josie Murphy
Mother
Tenant farmer. Died in 1940.
Terry Murphy
Son
Born on April 14, 1952.
James Murphy
Son
Born on March 24, 1954.

Companions

Wanda Hendrix
Wife
Actor. Born on November 3, 1928; married in 1949; divorced on April 20, 1951; later married Robert Stack's brother; died in February 1981.
Pamela Murphy
Wife
Married on April 23, 1951.

Bibliography

"Last of the Cowboy Heroes: The Westerns of Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, and Audie Murphy"
Robert Nott, McFarland (2000)