Frederick Martin MacMurray (August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991) was an American actor. He appeared in more than one hundred films and a successful television series, in a career that spanned nearly a half-century. His career as a major film leading man began in 1935, but his most renowned role was in Billy Wilder's film noir Double Indemnity. From 1959-1973, MacMurray appeared in numerous Disney films, including The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, Follow Me, Boys!, and The Happiest Millionaire. He played Steve Douglas in the television series My Three Sons. After his success in films, he became a highly successful businessman.
Frederick Martin MacMurray
August 30, 1908
Kankakee, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||November 5, 1991 (aged 83)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
(m. 1936; died 1953)
|Relatives||Fay Holderness (aunt)|
Early life and educationEdit
Frederick Martin MacMurray was born on August 30, 1908, in Kankakee, Illinois, the son of Maleta (née Martin) and concert violinist Frederick Talmadge MacMurray, both natives of Wisconsin. His aunt, Fay Holderness, was a vaudeville performer and actress. When MacMurray was an infant, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where his father taught music. They relocated within the state to Beaver Dam, his mother's birthplace. MacMurray attended school in Quincy, Illinois, before earning a full scholarship to Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He played the saxophone in numerous local bands. He did not graduate from college.
A featured vocalist, MacMurray recorded with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra on "All I Want Is Just One Girl" on the Victor label in 1930, and with George Olsen on "I'm In The Market For You" and "After a Million Dreams". Before signing with Paramount Pictures in 1934, he appeared on Broadway in Three's a Crowd (1930–31) and alongside Sydney Greenstreet and Bob Hope in Roberta (1933–34).
In the 1930s, MacMurray worked with film directors Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges, and actors Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Humphrey Bogart, Marlene Dietrich, and in seven films, Claudette Colbert, beginning with The Gilded Lily. He co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams, with Joan Crawford in Above Suspicion, and with Carole Lombard in four productions: Hands Across the Table, The Princess Comes Across, Swing High, Swing Low and True Confession. Usually cast in light comedies as a decent, thoughtful character (The Trail of the Lonesome Pine), and in melodramas and musicals, MacMurray became one of the film industry's highest-paid actors of the period. In 1943, his annual salary had reached $420,000, making him the highest-paid actor in Hollywood and the fourth-highest-paid person in the nation.
Despite being typecast as a "nice guy", MacMurray often said his best roles were when he was cast against type, such as under the direction of Billy Wilder and Edward Dmytryk. Perhaps his best known "bad guy" performance was that of Walter Neff, an insurance salesman who plots with a greedy wife to kill her husband in the film noir classic Double Indemnity. In another turn in the "not so nice" category, MacMurray played the cynical, duplicitous Lieutenant Thomas Keefer in Dmytryk's film The Caine Mutiny. Six years later, MacMurray played Jeff Sheldrake, a two-timing corporate executive in Wilder's Oscar-winning film The Apartment. In 1958, he guest-starred in the premiere episode of NBC's Cimarron City Western series, with George Montgomery and John Smith. MacMurray's career continued upward the following year, when he was cast as the father in the Disney film The Shaggy Dog.
From 1960 to 1972, he starred in My Three Sons, a long-running, highly rated TV series. Concurrently with it, MacMurray starred in other films, playing Professor Ned Brainard in The Absent-Minded Professor and its sequel Son of Flubber. Using his star-power clout, MacMurray had a provision in his My Three Sons contract that all of his scenes on that series were to be shot in two separate month-long production blocks and filmed first. That condensed performance schedule provided him more free time to pursue his work in films, maintain his ranch in Northern California, and enjoy his favorite leisure activity, golf. Over the years, MacMurray became one of the wealthiest actors in the entertainment industry, primarily from wise real estate investments and from his "notorious frugality". After his final film The Swarm, MacMurray appeared in commercials for the 1979 Greyhound Lines bus company. Towards the end of the decade, he appeared in a series of commercials for the Korean chisenbop math calculation program.
MacMurray was married twice. He married Lillian Lamont (legal name Lilian Wehmhoener MacMurray, born 1908) on June 20, 1936, and the couple adopted two children, Susan and Robert. After Lamont died of cancer on June 22, 1953, he married actress June Haver the following year. The couple subsequently adopted two more children—twins born in 1956—Katherine and Laurie. MacMurray and Haver's marriage lasted 37 years, until Fred's death.
MacMurray was a businessman who became the fourth-highest-paid citizen in the United States. In 1941, he purchased land in the Russian River Valley in Northern California and established MacMurray Ranch. At the 1,750-acre ranch he raised prize-winning Aberdeen Angus cattle, cultivated prunes, apples, alfalfa and other crops, and enjoyed watercolor painting, fly fishing, and skeet shooting. MacMurray wanted the property's agricultural heritage preserved, so five years after his death, in 1996, it was sold to Gallo, which planted vineyards on it for wines that bear the MacMurray Ranch label. Kate MacMurray, daughter of Haver and MacMurray, now lives on the property (in a cabin built by her father), and is "actively engaged in Sonoma's thriving wine community, carrying on her family's legacy and the heritage of MacMurray Ranch". In 1944, he purchased the iconic Bryson Apartment Hotel in the Westlake, Los Angeles neighborhood and used it for about thirty years. Later in life, MacMurray insisted upon a percentage of gross of the films in which he starred.
Illness and deathEdit
A lifelong heavy smoker, MacMurray had throat cancer in the late 1970s, and it recurred in 1987. He had a severe stroke in December 1988 that paralyzed his right side and affected his speech. With therapy he made a 90 percent recovery. After suffering from leukemia for more than a decade, MacMurray died of pneumonia on November 5, 1991, in Santa Monica, California.
Awards and influenceEdit
In 1939, artist C. C. Beck used MacMurray as the initial model for the superhero character who became Fawcett Comics' Captain Marvel. MacMurray was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for The Absent-Minded Professor. He was the first person honored as a Disney Legend in 1987.
The Academy Film Archive houses the Fred MacMurray-June Haver Collection. The film materials are complemented by papers at the Academy's Margaret Herrick Library.
|1929||Girls Gone Wild||Extra||Film debut|
|1929||Why Leave Home?||Uncredited|
|1934||Friends of Mr. Sweeney||Walk-on part||Uncredited|
|1935||Grand Old Girl||Sandy|
|1935||The Gilded Lily||Peter Dawes|
|1935||Car 99||Trooper Ross Martin|
|1935||Men Without Names||Richard Hood / Richard 'Dick' Grant|
|1935||Alice Adams||Arthur Russell|
|1935||Hands Across the Table||Theodore Drew III|
|1935||The Bride Comes Home||Cyrus Anderson|
|1936||The Trail of the Lonesome Pine||Jack Hale|
|1936||13 Hours by Air||Jack Gordon|
|1936||The Princess Comes Across||Joe King Mantell|
|1936||The Texas Rangers||Jim Hawkins|
|1937||Champagne Waltz||Buzzy Bellew|
|1937||Maid of Salem||Roger Coverman of Virginia|
|1937||Swing High, Swing Low||Skid Johnson|
|1937||True Confession||Kenneth Bartlett|
|1938||Cocoanut Grove||Johnny Prentice|
|1938||Men with Wings||Pat Falconer|
|1938||Sing You Sinners||David Beebe|
|1939||Cafe Society||Crick O'Bannon|
|1939||Invitation to Happiness||Albert 'King' Cole|
|1939||Honeymoon in Bali||Bill 'Willie' Burnett|
|1940||Remember the Night||John Sargent|
|1940||Little Old New York||Charles Brownne|
|1940||Too Many Husbands||Bill Cardew|
|1940||Rangers of Fortune||Gil Farra|
|1941||One Night in Lisbon||Dwight Houston|
|1941||Dive Bomber||Joe Blake|
|1941||New York Town||Victor Ballard|
|1942||The Lady Is Willing||Dr. Corey T. McBain|
|1942||Star Spangled Rhythm||Frank in Card-Playing Skit|
|1942||Take a Letter, Darling||Tom Verney|
|1942||The Forest Rangers||Don Stuart|
|1943||No Time for Love||Jim Ryan|
|1943||Flight for Freedom||Randy Britton|
|1943||Above Suspicion||Richard Myles|
|1944||Standing Room Only||Lee Stevens|
|1944||And the Angels Sing||Happy Morgan|
|1944||Double Indemnity||Walter Neff|
|1944||Practically Yours||Daniel Bellamy|
|1945||Where Do We Go from Here?||Bill Morgan|
|1945||Captain Eddie||Edward Rickenbacker|
|1945||Murder, He Says||Pete Marshall|
|1945||Pardon My Past||Eddie York / Francis Pemberton|
|1947||Suddenly, It's Spring||Peter Morely|
|1947||The Egg and I||Bob MacDonald|
|1948||On Our Merry Way||Al|
|1948||The Miracle of the Bells||Bill Dunnigan|
|1948||An Innocent Affair||Vincent Doane|
|1949||Family Honeymoon||Grant Jordan|
|1949||Father Was a Fullback||George Cooper|
|1950||Borderline||Johnny McEvoy – aka Johnny Macklin|
|1950||Never a Dull Moment||Chris|
|1951||A Millionaire for Christy||Peter Ulysses Lockwood|
|1951||Callaway Went Thataway||Mike Frye|
|1953||Fair Wind to Java||Captain Boll|
|1953||The Moonlighter||Wes Anderson|
|1954||The Caine Mutiny||Tom Keefer|
|1954||Woman's World||Sid Burns|
|1955||The Far Horizons||Captain Meriwether Lewis|
|1955||The Rains of Ranchipur||Thomas "Tom" Ransome|
|1955||At Gunpoint||Jack Wright|
|1956||There's Always Tomorrow||Clifford Groves|
|1957||Gun for a Coward||Will Keough|
|1957||Quantez||Gentry / John Coventry|
|1958||Day of the Badman||Judge Jim Scott|
|1959||Good Day for a Hanging||Marshal Ben Cutler|
|1959||The Shaggy Dog||Wilson Daniels|
|1959||Face of a Fugitive||Jim Larsen aka Ray Kincaid|
|1959||The Oregon Trail||Neal Harris|
|1960||The Apartment||Jeff D. Sheldrake|
|1961||The Absent-Minded Professor||Professor Ned Brainard|
|1962||Bon Voyage!||Harry Willard|
|1963||Son of Flubber||Ned Brainard|
|1964||Kisses for My President||Thad McCloud|
|1966||Follow Me, Boys!||Lemuel Siddons|
|1967||The Happiest Millionaire||Antony Drexel-Biddle|
|1973||Charley and the Angel||Charley Appleby|
|1978||The Swarm||Mayor Clarence Tuttle||Final film role|
|1940||Screen Snapshots: Art and Artists||Himself|
|1941||Hedda Hopper's Hollywood No. 1||Himself||Uncredited|
|1943||Show Business at War||Himself||Uncredited|
|1943||The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith||Narrator||Uncredited|
|1949||Screen Snapshots: Motion Picture Mothers, Inc.||Himself|
|1954||The Jack Benny Program||Himself||Episode: "The Jam Session Show"|
|1955; 1958||General Electric Theater||Richard Elgin / Harry Wingate||Episodes: "The Bachelor's Bride" and "One Is a Wanderer"|
|1956||Screen Directors Playhouse||Peter Terrance||Episode: "It's a Most Unusual Day"|
|1957||The 20th Century-Fox Hour||Peterson||Episode: "False Witness"|
|1958||Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour||Himself||Episode: "Lucy Hunts Uranium"|
|1958||Cimarron City||Himself||Episode: "I, the People"|
|1960||The United States Steel Hour||Himself||Episode: "The American Cowboy"|
|1960–1972||My Three Sons||Steve Douglas||380 episodes|
|1964||Summer Playhouse||Himself||Episode: "The Apartment House"|
|1974||The Chadwick Family||Ned Chadwick||Television film|
|1975||Beyond the Bermuda Triangle||Harry Ballinger||Television film|
|1930–31||Three's a Crowd|
- Lux Radio Theater – Pete Dawes ("The Gilded Lily") (1937), Victor Hallam ("Another Language") (1937), John Horace Mason ("Made for Each Other") (1940), Bill Dunnigan ("The Miracle of the Bells) (1948)
- The Screen Guild Theater – The Philadelphia Story (1942)
- Screen Directors Playhouse – Take a Letter, Darling (1951)
- Bright Star – George Harvey (1952–53)
- Lux Summer Theatre – The Lady and the Tumblers (1953)
- The Martin and Lewis Show – Himself (1953)
- "Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910", Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin; enumeration page dated April 18, 1910. Bureau of the Census, United States Department of Commerce and Labor, Washington, D.C. Digital image of original enumeration page available at FamilySearch, a free online genealogical database provided as a public service by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
- "MacMurray Family Lived in Gladstone, Fred's Folks Friends of Mrs. S. Goldstein". The Escanaba Daily Press. September 26, 1935. p. 7. Retrieved December 19, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.
- "All I Want is One", Fred MacMurray with Gus Arnheim's Coconut Grove Orchestra, YouTube. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- The Broadway League. "IBDb". IBDb. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Flint, Peter B. (November 6, 1991). "Fred MacMurray Is Dead at 83; Versatile Film and Television Star". The New York Times.
- "TCM Movie Database". Tcmdb.com. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Gaita, Paul. "Fred MacMurray", biographical profile, Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Retrieved June 2, 2017.
- "How My Three Sons star Fred MacMurray became one of the wealthiest actors in the biz".
- Taylor, Dan (2013). "Healdsburg Museum exhibits memorabilia from actor Fred MacMurray's nearby ranch". Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California), May 31, 2013, arts section. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
- Murphy, Linda (2003). "Hollywood to vine / A film star's daughter returns home to a Pinot paradise". San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 2003. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
- "Gallo Family to Buy MacMurray Ranch". San Francisco Chronicle. May 6, 1996. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "Kate MacMurray". MacMurray Ranch. February 25, 2008. Archived from the original on April 24, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- Wright, Johnathan L. (July 26, 2017). "Inside the wine ranch once owned by a movie legend". Reno Gezette Journal. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
Famed actor Fred MacMurray purchased the property in 1941. Today, his daughter Kate is the winery's guiding spirit.
- "Archives: Story". Filmsofthegoldenage.com. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "The Marvel Family Web". Marvelfamily.com. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "Fred MacMurray: The First Disney Legend". Mouseplanet.com. August 26, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- "Fred MacMurry-June Haver Collection". Academy Film Archive. September 4, 2014.
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. Vol. 35, no. 2. Spring 2009. pp. 32–39.
- "Radio's Golden Age". Nostalgia Digest. Vol. 40, no. 1. Winter 2014. pp. 40–41.
- Kirby, Walter (June 14, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 54. Retrieved July 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Fred MacMurray biography video – Bing video".[dead link]