George Murphy

George Lloyd Murphy (July 4, 1902 – May 3, 1992) was an American dancer, actor, and politician. Murphy was a song-and-dance leading man in many big-budget Hollywood musicals from 1930 to 1952. He was the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1944 to 1946, and was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1951. Murphy served from 1965 to 1971 as U.S. Senator from California, the first notable U.S. actor to be elected to public office in California, predating Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.[1] He is the only United States Senator represented by a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

George Murphy
United States Senator
from California
In office
January 1, 1965 – January 2, 1971
Preceded byPierre Salinger
Succeeded byJohn V. Tunney
7th President of the Screen Actors Guild
In office
Preceded byJames Cagney
Succeeded byRobert Montgomery
Personal details
George Lloyd Murphy

July 4, 1902
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedMay 3, 1992 (aged 89)
Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Julie Henkel-Johnson (1926–1973)
Betty Duhon Blandi (1982–1992)
EducationYale University (BA)

Early life

Murphy was born in New Haven, Connecticut, of Irish Catholic extraction, the son of Michael Charles "Mike" Murphy, athletic trainer and coach, and the former Nora Long. He was educated at Trinity-Pawling School, Peddie School and Yale University in his native New Haven.[2] He worked as a tool maker for the Ford Motor Company, as a miner, a real estate agent, and a night club dancer.

Film career

In movies, Murphy was famous as a song-and-dance man and appeared in many big-budget musicals such as Broadway Melody of 1938, Broadway Melody of 1940 and For Me and My Gal. He made his movie debut shortly after talking pictures had replaced silent movies in 1930, and his career continued until he retired as an actor in 1952, at the age of 50. During World War II, he organized entertainment for American troops.[3]

In 1951, he was awarded an honorary Academy Award. He was never nominated for an Oscar in any competitive category.

He was the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1944 to 1946. He was also a vice president of Desilu Studios and of the Technicolor Corporation. He was director of entertainment for presidential inaugurations in 1953, 1957 and 1961.

Political career

Murphy entered politics in 1953 by joining the leadership of the California Republican Party, having also directed the entertainment for the Eisenhower-Nixon inauguration that same year.

In 1964, he was elected as a Republican to the Senate, having defeated Pierre Salinger, the former presidential press secretary in the Kennedy White House, who had been appointed several months earlier to serve the remainder of the late Clair Engle's unexpired term. Murphy served from January 1, 1965 to January 3, 1971. Murphy assumed his seat two days early, when Salinger resigned from the seat to allow Murphy to gain an edge in seniority. Murphy was then appointed by Democratic Governor Pat Brown to serve the remaining two days of Salinger's term. His election attracted the attention of satirist Tom Lehrer, who wrote and performed a song about him.[4]

Murphy was in demand for a time to assist other Republican candidates seeking office. In 1966, he hosted a fundraising dinner in Atlanta, Georgia for US Representative Howard "Bo" Callaway, the first Republican candidate for Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction. In the election, Callaway outpolled Democrat Lester Maddox, but did not get a majority, and the state legislature elected Maddox.[5]

In 1967 and 1968, Murphy was the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. During his Senate term, Murphy developed throat cancer, and part of his larynx had to be removed. For the rest of his life, he was unable to speak above a whisper.

In 1970, Murphy ran for re-election; he was challenged by Democratic US Representative John V. Tunney, the son of famed heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney. Murphy's surgery and staunch support for the lingering Vietnam War worked against him, as did reports that he had continued to receive a salary from Technicolor after taking office.[6] Tunney's successful Senate race in 1970 was reportedly the inspiration for the 1972 Robert Redford film The Candidate.[7]


Murphy subsequently moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where he died at the age of 89, from leukemia.


Murphy's move from the screen to California politics paved the way for the successful transitions of actors such as Ronald Reagan and later Arnold Schwarzenegger. Reagan once famously referred to George Murphy as his own "John the Baptist".

Fellow Republicans praised Murphy's ability to speak at fundraising dinners and so consequently backed his bid to become the chairman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.[8]

During his tenure in the Senate, Murphy created the candy desk by placing a supply of confectionery on his desk on the US Senate floor. After 1971, the candy-desk duties were bequeathed to a string of successors; since 2015, the keeper of the candy desk has been Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey.

Personal life

Murphy was married to his ballroom dancing partner, Juliette "Julie" Henkel-Johnson, from December 18, 1926 until her death, in 1973. They had two children: Dennis Michael Murphy and Melissa Elaine Murphy.

He was married to Bette Blandi from 1982 until his death in 1992.[9] His widow died in 1999.



George Murphy in London By Night
in the film London by Night (1937)


  1. ^ In 1944 Democrat Jimmie Davis (1899–2000)—popularizer of "You Are My Sunshine"—was elected to his first term as Governor of Louisiana. In 1948 Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff won the Republican nomination for Governor of Tennessee but was defeated in the general election.
  2. ^ George Lloyd Murphy, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed February 27, 2011.
  3. ^ "MURPHY, George Lloyd". Biographical Directory of the U. S. Congress. Office of the Historian, U. S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  4. ^ Tom Lehrer - Topic (3 July 2015). "George Murphy". Retrieved 23 April 2018 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ Billy Hathorn, "The Frustration of Opportunity: Georgia Republicans and the Election of 1966", Atlanta History: A Journal of Georgia and the South, XXXI (Winter 1987-1988), pp. 42, 47
  6. ^ New York Times, "George Murphy, Singer and Actor Who Became Senator, Dies at 89."
  7. ^ Christensen, Terry, and Hass, Peter. Projecting Politics: Political Messages in American Films, p. 146
  8. ^ Weaver, Warren (8 December 1966). "Murphy Is Urged to Challenge Liberals for G.O.P. Senate Job; He Is Backed to Oppose Scott as Campaign Unit Leader Dirksen May Decide" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  9. ^ Zan Thompson (12 June 1986). "The Personal Side of George Murphy at Age 83". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Escape and Suspense!: Suspense - Death on Highway 99". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  11. ^ Kirby, Walter (April 13, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved May 11, 2015 – via open access

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Goodwin Knight
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from California
(Class 1)

1964, 1970
Succeeded by
S. I. Hayakawa
Preceded by
Thruston Ballard Morton
Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
Succeeded by
John Tower
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Pierre Salinger
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from California
Served alongside: Thomas Kuchel, Alan Cranston
Succeeded by
John V. Tunney
Bataan (film)

Bataan is a 1943 American black-and-white World War II film drama from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, produced by Irving Starr (with Dore Schary as executive producer), directed by Tay Garnett, that stars Robert Taylor, George Murphy, Lloyd Nolan, Thomas Mitchell, and Robert Walker. The film follows the defense of the Bataan Peninsula by American forces in the Philippines against the invading Japanese.

Broadway Melody of 1938

Broadway Melody of 1938 is a 1937 American musical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Roy Del Ruth. The film is essentially a backstage musical revue, featuring high-budget sets and cinematography in the MGM musical tradition. The film stars Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor and features Buddy Ebsen, George Murphy, Judy Garland, Sophie Tucker, Raymond Walburn, Robert Benchley and Binnie Barnes.

The film is most notable for young Garland's performance of "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)", a tribute to Clark Gable which turned the teenage singer, who had been toiling in obscurity for a couple of years, into an overnight sensation, leading eventually to her being cast in The Wizard of Oz (1939) as Dorothy.

Broadway Melody of 1940

Broadway Melody of 1940 is a 1940 MGM film musical starring Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell and George Murphy. It was directed by Norman Taurog and features music by Cole Porter, including "Begin the Beguine".

The film was the fourth and final entry in MGM's "Broadway Melody" series of films, and is notable for being the only on-screen pairing of Astaire and Powell, who were considered the finest film musical dancers of their time.

Broadway Rhythm

Broadway Rhythm (1944) is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Technicolor musical film. It was produced by Jack Cummings and directed by Roy Del Ruth.

The film was originally announced as Broadway Melody of 1944 to follow MGM's Broadway Melody films of 1929, 1936, 1938, and 1940. It was originally slated to star Eleanor Powell and Gene Kelly, but Louis B. Mayer and MGM loaned Kelly out to Columbia to play opposite Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl (1944). The film instead starred George Murphy, who had appeared in Broadway Melody of 1938 and Broadway Melody of 1940. Mayer then replaced Powell with Ginny Simms.

Other cast members included Charles Winninger, Gloria DeHaven, Lena Horne, Nancy Walker, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, the Ross Sisters, and Ben Blue, as well as Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra.

Cynthia (film)

Cynthia is a 1947 American comedy-drama film starring Mary Astor, Elizabeth Taylor, and George Murphy. It, by Harold Buchman and Charles Kaufman, is based on the play The Rich, Full Life by Viña Delmar.

George Murphy (special effects artist)

George Murphy is an American special effects artist. He is most known for his work in Forrest Gump for which he won an Academy Award in the category of Best Visual Effects during the 67th Academy Awards. He shared his win with Allen Hall, Ken Ralston, and Stephen Rosenbaum.

He also won the BAFTA award for Best Visual Effects at the 48th British Academy Film Awards for Forrest Gump.

Jealousy (1934 film)

Jealousy is a 1934 American drama film directed by Roy William Neill and starring Nancy Carroll, George Murphy, Donald Cook and Raymond Walburn. The film was released on November 23, 1934 by Columbia Pictures.

Little Nellie Kelly

Little Nellie Kelly is a 1940 American musical comedy film based on the stage musical of the same title by George M. Cohan which was a hit on Broadway in 1922 and 1923. The film was written by Jack McGowan and directed by Norman Taurog. Its cast included Judy Garland, George Murphy, Charles Winninger and Douglas McPhail.

The film is notable for containing Judy Garland's only on-screen death scene, although she re-appears in the film as the daughter of the character who died.

London by Night (film)

London by Night is a 1937 murder mystery film starring George Murphy and Rita Johnson.

Pops Foster

George Murphy "Pops" Foster (May 19, 1892 – October 29, 1969) was a jazz musician best known for his vigorous slap bass playing of the string bass. He also played the tuba and trumpet professionally.

Foster was born to Charley and Annie Foster, who "was nearly fullblooded Cherokee," on a plantation near McCall in Ascension Parish near Donaldsonville in south Louisiana. His family moved to New Orleans when he was about 10 years of age. His older brother, Willard Foster, began playing banjo and guitar; George started out on a cello then switched to string bass. Foster married twice: to Bertha Foster in 1912 and Alma Foster in 1936.

Pops Foster was playing professionally by 1907 and worked with Jack Carey, Kid Ory, Armand Piron, King Oliver and other prominent hot bands of the era.

In 1921 he moved to St. Louis to play with the Charlie Creath and Dewey Jackson bands, in which he would be active for much of the decade. He also joined Ory in Los Angeles. He acquired the nickname "Pops" because he was far older than any of the other players in the band.

In 1929 Foster moved to New York City, where he played with the bands of Luis Russell and Louis Armstrong through 1940. He gigged with various New York-based bands through the 1940s, including those of Sidney Bechet, Art Hodes, and regular broadcasts on the national This Is Jazz radio program. He also recorded for the Mezzrow-Bechet Quintet (Bechet, Mezz Mezzrow, Fitz Weston, and Kaiser Marshall) and Septet (on two consecutive dates in 1945, with Hot Lips Page (as Pappa Snow White), Sammy Price (as Jimmy Blythe Jr.), Danny Barker and Sid Catlett, and on the second session with Pleasant Joe on vocals).

In the late 1940s he began touring more widely and played in many countries in Europe, especially in France, and throughout the United States including returns to New Orleans and California.

In 1952, Foster toured Europe with Jimmy Archey's Band. He played regularly at Central Plaza in New York and briefly in New Orleans with Papa Celestin in 1954.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he played with Earl Hines' Small Band. In 1966, he toured Europe with the New Orleans All-Stars but remained based in San Francisco, where he died.

The Autobiography of Pops Foster was published in 1971, with a new edition in 2005. Foster is quoted, "Some of the books are fouled up on" the times in New Orleans", "and some of the guys weren't telling the truth." "The citics and guys who write about jazz think they know more about what went on in New Orleans than the guys that were there."

Ringside Maisie

Ringside Maisie is a 1941 film directed by Edwin L. Marin. It stars Ann Sothern, Robert Sterling and George Murphy. It is the fifth of ten pictures in the Maisie series. This was Sothern and future husband Sterling's only film together.

Rise and Shine (film)

Rise and Shine is a 1941 American comedy crime film directed by Allan Dwan and starring Jack Oakie, George Murphy and Linda Darnell.

Risky Business (1939 film)

Risky Business is a 1939 film directed by Arthur Lubin and starring George Murphy and Dorothea Kent.

Show Business (1944 film)

Show Business is a 1944 movie musical film starring Eddie Cantor, George Murphy, Joan Davis, Nancy Kelly, and Constance Moore. The film was directed by Edwin L. Marin and released by RKO Radio Pictures.

The Mayor of 44th Street

The Mayor of 44th Street is a 1942 film directed by Alfred E. Green. It stars George Murphy and Anne Shirley. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1943.

The Public Menace

The Public Menace is a 1935 American black-and-white romantic drama film starring Jean Arthur, George Murphy and Douglass Dumbrille. A newspaper reporter keeps losing and regaining his job due to a manicurist he is persuaded to marry.

This Is the Army

This Is the Army is a 1943 American wartime musical comedy film produced by Hal B. Wallis and Jack L. Warner, and directed by Michael Curtiz, adapted from a wartime stage musical with the same name, designed to boost morale in the U.S. during World War II, directed by Ezra Stone. The screenplay by Casey Robinson and Claude Binyon was based on the 1942 Broadway musical by Irving Berlin, who also composed the film's 19 songs and broke screen protocol by singing one of them. The movie features a large ensemble cast, including George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Joan Leslie, Alan Hale Sr. and Rosemary DeCamp, while both the stage play and film included soldiers of the U.S. Army who were actors and performers in civilian life.

Walk East on Beacon

Walk East on Beacon is a 1952 American drama film directed by Alfred L. Werker and starring George Murphy, Finlay Currie, and Virginia Gilmore. It was released by Columbia Pictures. The screenplay was inspired by a May 1952 Reader's Digest article by J. Edgar Hoover entitled "The Crime of the Century: The Case of the A-Bomb Spies." The article covers the case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for treason.

You're a Sweetheart

You're a Sweetheart is a 1937 musical film directed by David Butler and starring Alice Faye, George Murphy and Ken Murray. It was remade in 1943 under the title Cowboy in Manhattan.

You're a Sweetheart was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction by Jack Otterson.

Class 1
Class 3
Presidents of the Screen Actors Guild and SAG-AFTRA

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.