Don Murray (actor)

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Don Murray
Don Murray by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Murray at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Donald Patrick Murray

(1929-07-31) July 31, 1929 (age 93)
Alma materAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1950–present
  • (m. 1956; div. 1961)
  • Bettie Johnson
    (m. 1962)
Children5, including Christopher Murray

Donald Patrick Murray (born July 31, 1929) is an American actor[1] best known for his breakout performance in the film Bus Stop (1956) with Marilyn Monroe, which earned him a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Murray's other theatrical films include A Hatful of Rain (1957), Shake Hands with the Devil (1959) with James Cagney, One Foot in Hell (1960) with Alan Ladd, The Hoodlum Priest (1961), Advise & Consent (1962) with Henry Fonda and Charles Laughton, Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965) with Steve McQueen, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), Deadly Hero (1975), and Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).

He starred in television series such as The Outcasts (1968–1969), Knots Landing (1979–1981), and Twin Peaks (2017).

Early life and career[edit]

Murray in 1956

Murray was born in 1929, the second of three children, to Dennis Aloisius Murray, a Broadway dance director and stage manager, and Ethel Murray (née Cook), a former Ziegfeld Follies performer.[2]

Murray attended East Rockaway High School (class of 1947) in East Rockaway, New York, where he played football and was on the track team. He was a member of the student government, glee club, and joined the Alpha Phi Chapter of the Omega Gamma Delta Fraternity. Upon graduation from high school, he studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After graduating, he soon made his Broadway debut in the play The Rose Tattoo (1951), as Jack Hunter.[citation needed]

A member of the Brethren Church, Murray registered as a conscientious objector during the Korean War, when many young American men were being drafted into the armed forces. Murray was assigned to alternative service in Europe, where he helped orphans and war casualties.[3][4]

In 1954, he returned from Europe to the United States and acting. He starred alongside Mary Martin in the stage version of The Skin of Our Teeth. Upon seeing his performance in the play, director Joshua Logan decided to cast him in 20th Century Fox's film adaptation of Bus Stop, a play by William Inge.[citation needed]

Film and television career[edit]

with Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop (1956)

Don Murray's role as Beauregard "Beau" Decker in Bus Stop (1956) marked his film debut. He starred alongside Marilyn Monroe, who played Cherie, the object of his desire. His performance as the innocent cowboy who is determined to get Cherie was well received, and he was nominated for a BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer and for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In 1957, he starred as reserved, married bookkeeper Charlie Sampson in The Bachelor Party.[5] The same year he starred in one of his most successful roles, that of Johnny Pope in the drama A Hatful of Rain. Despite director Fred Zinnemann's intention to typecast the actor as the comical brother Polo, Murray insisted on playing the lead. Thus he portrayed Johnny Pope, a morphine-addicted Korean War veteran. The film was one of the first to show the effects of drug abuse on the addicted and those around him.

He starred as a blackmailed United States senator in Advise & Consent (1962), a film version of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Allen Drury. The movie was directed by Otto Preminger and cast Murray opposite Henry Fonda and Charles Laughton. He also co-starred with Steve McQueen in the film Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965) and played the ape-hating Governor Breck in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972).

In 1976, Murray starred in the film Deadly Hero.[5] In addition to acting, Murray directed a film based on the book The Cross and the Switchblade (1970) starring Pat Boone and Erik Estrada.

with Eva Marie Saint in A Hatful of Rain (1957)

Murray starred with Otis Young in the ground breaking ABC western television series The Outcasts (1968–1969) featuring an interracial bounty hunter team in the post-American Civil War West.

In 1979, he starred as Sid Fairgate on the long-running prime-time soap opera Knots Landing. He also scripted two episodes of the program in 1980. In 1981, Murray decided to leave the series after two seasons to concentrate on other projects, but some sources say he left over a salary dispute. The character's death was notable at the time, because it was considered rare to kill off a star character. The death came in the second episode of season three, following season two's cliffhanger in which Sid's car careened off a cliff. To make viewers doubt that the character had actually died, Murray was listed in the credit sequence for season three; in fact, season three revealed that Fairgate had survived the plunge off the cliff (thus temporarily reassuring the viewers), but died shortly afterwards in hospital. Although he effectively distanced himself from the series after that, Murray later contributed an interview segment for Knots Landing: Together Again, a reunion special made in 2005.


In July 2014, a retrospective of Murray's films was held at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, Murray married Hope Lange, with whom he had co-starred in Bus Stop. They had two children, Christopher and Patricia. They divorced in 1961. In 1962, he married Elizabeth Johnson and then had three children, Coleen, Sean, and Michael.


Feature films[edit]

with Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop trailer (1956)
Year Title Role
1956 Bus Stop Beauregard "Bo" Decker
1957 The Bachelor Party Charlie Samson
A Hatful of Rain Johnny Pope
1958 From Hell to Texas Tod Lohman
1959 These Thousand Hills Albert Gallatin "Lat" Evans
Shake Hands with the Devil Kerry O'Shea
1960 One Foot in Hell Dan Keats
1961 The Hoodlum Priest Father Charles Dismas Clark
1962 Advise & Consent Senator Brigham Anderson
Escape from East Berlin Kurt Schröder
1964 One Man's Way Norman Vincent Peale
1965 Baby the Rain Must Fall "Slim"
1966 Kid Rodelo "Kid" Rodelo
The Plainsman Bill "Wild Bill" Hickok
1967 Sweet Love, Bitter David Hillary
The Viking Queen Justinian
1969 Childish Things Tom Harris
1971 Happy Birthday, Wanda June Herb Shuttle
1972 Call Me by My Rightful Name Doug
Justin Morgan Had a Horse Justin Morgan
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes Governor Breck
1973 Cotter Cotter
1975 Deadly Hero Lacy
1981 Endless Love Hugh Butterfield
1983 I Am the Cheese David Farmer
1985 Radioactive Dreams Dash Hammer
1986 Peggy Sue Got Married Jack Kelcher
Scorpion Gifford Leese
1987 Made in Heaven Ben Chandler
1990 Ghosts Can't Do It Winston
2000 Internet Love Unknown
2001 Island Prey Parker Gaits
Elvis Is Alive Unknown
2021 Promise Zacharias

Television films[edit]

Year Title Role
1959 Winterset Mio
1967 The Borgia Stick Tom Harrison
1969 Daughter of the Mind Dr. Alex Lauder
1970 The Intruders Sam Garrison
1973 The Girl on the Late, Late Show William Martin
1974 The Sex Symbol Senator Grant O'Neal
1975 A Girl Named Sooner Sheriff Phil Rotteman
1978 Rainbow Frank Gumm
1979 Crisis in Mid-Air Adam Travis
1980 If Things Were Different Robert Langford
The Boy Who Drank Too Much Ken Saunders
Police Story: Confessions of a Lady Cop Sergeant Jack Leland
Fugitive Family Peter Ritchie
1981 Return of the Rebels Sonny Morgan
1983 Thursday's Child Parker Alden
Branagan and Mapes Dan Branagan
Quarterback Princess Ralph Maida
1984 License to Kill Tom Fiske
A Touch of Scandal Benjamin Gilvey
1986 Something in Common Theo Fontana
1987 Stillwatch Sam Kingsley
The Stepford Children Steven Harding
Mistress Wyn
1996 Hearts Adrift Lloyd Raines
1998 Mr. Headmistress Reporter


Year Title Role Notes
1950 Studio One Biondello Episode: "The Taming of the Shrew"
Kraft Television Theatre George Episode: "January Thaw"
1952 Booth Episode: "Mr. Lazarus"
Lux Video Theatre Jimmy Episode: "Welcome Home, Lefty"
1955 Producers' Showcase Henry Antrobus Episode: "The Skin of Our Teeth"
The Philco Television Playhouse Alex Nordman Episode: "A Man Is Ten Feet Tall"
Fireside Theatre Ken Episode: "One Last September"
1956 The United States Steel Hour Don Episode: "Moment of Courage"
1957 Playhouse 90 Bob Munson Episode: "For I Have Loved Strangers"
1959 The DuPont Show of the Month Billy Budd Episode: "Billy Budd"
1960 Playhouse 90 Randy Bragg Episode: "Alas, Babylon"
1968-1969 The Outcasts Earl Corey 26 episodes
1972 Disneyland Justin Morgan 2 episodes
1973 Police Story Jack Bonner Episode: "The Big Walk"
Orson Welles Great Mysteries Jack Stanley Episode: "The Power of Fear"
Love Story Neil Kaplan Episode: "The Roller Coaster Stops Here"
1974 Amy Prentiss Connor Episode: "The Desperate World of Jane Doe"
1975 Police Story Sergeant Stiles Episode: "Headhunter"
1977 How the West Was Won Anderson 3 episodes
1979-1982 Knots Landing Sid Fairgate 34 episodes
1986 T.J. Hooker Senator Stuart Grayle Episode: "Blood Sport"
1987 Matlock Albert Gordon Episode: "The Billionaire"
Hotel Sam Burton Episode: "Controlling Interests"
1989 ABC Afterschool Special Jack Karpinsky Episode: "My Dad Can't Be Crazy... Can He?"
1989-1990 Brand New Life Roger Gibbons 6 episodes
1991 Sons and Daughters Bing Hammersmith 6 episodes
1993 ABC Afterschool Special Frank Morrow Episode: "Montan Crossroads"
Murder, She Wrote Wally Hampton Episode: "Bloodlines"
1995 Wings Dad Episode: "Burnin' Down the House: Part 2"
1996 The Single Guy Chip Bremley Episode: "Distance"
1998 The Wonderful World of Disney Reporter Episode: "Mr. Headmistress"
1999 Soldier of Fortune, Inc. John James / Colonel Quentin Shepherd Episode: "White Dragon"
2017 Twin Peaks Bushnell Mullins 8 episodes


  1. ^ Monush, Barry (April 1, 2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 535–. ISBN 978-1-55783-551-2. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  2. ^ Don Murray profile,; retrieved June 18, 2012.
  3. ^ "Alternatives, Narrated by Don Murray". American Friends Service Committee. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  4. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors. New York: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books. p. 535. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Kiefer, Jonathan (July 2, 2014). "Discovering Don". SF Weekly.

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