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 make the successful transition to elected official in California, predating Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is the only United States Senator represented by a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
|United States Senator
January 1, 1965 – January 2, 1971
|Preceded by||Pierre Salinger|
|Succeeded by||John V. Tunney|
|Born||George Lloyd Murphy
July 4, 1902
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||May 3, 1992
Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Julie Henkel-Johnson (1926–1973)
Betty Duhon Blandi (1982–1992)
|Education||Yale University (BA)|
He 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. He worked as a tool maker for the Ford Motor Company, as a miner, a real estate agent, and a night club dancer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Tunney's successful Senate race in 1970 was reportedly the inspiration for the 1972 Robert Redford film The Candidate.
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.
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.
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. His widow died in 1999.
- Deep in My Heart (1954) (scenes deleted)
- Walk East on Beacon (1952)
- Talk About a Stranger (1952)
- It's a Big Country (1951)
- Border Incident (1949)
- Battleground (1949)
- Tenth Avenue Angel (1948)
- Big City (1948)
- The Arnelo Affair (1947)
- Cynthia (1947) as Larry Bishop
- Up Goes Maisie (1946)
- Having Wonderful Crime (1945)
- Show Business (1944)
- Step Lively (1944)
- Broadway Rhythm (1944)
- The Powers Girl (1943)
- Bataan (1943)
- This Is the Army (1943)
- For Me and My Gal (1942)
- The Navy Comes Through (1942)
- The Mayor of 44th Street (1942)
- A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob (1941)
- Tom, Dick and Harry (1941)
- Ringside Maisie (1941)
- Rise and Shine (1941)
- Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
- Little Nellie Kelly (1940)
- Public Deb No. 1 (1940)
- Two Girls on Broadway (1940)
- Risky Business (1939)
- Letter of Introduction (1938)
- Little Miss Broadway (1938)
- Hold That Co-ed (1938)
- Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
- Top of the Town (1937)
- The Women Men Marry (1937)
- London by Night (1937)
- You're a Sweetheart (1937)
- Woman Trap (1936)
- The Public Menace (1935)
- After the Dance (1935)
- Kid Millions (1934)
- Jealousy (1934)
- 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.
- George Lloyd Murphy, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed February 27, 2011.
- Tom Lehrer - Topic (3 July 2015). "George Murphy". Retrieved 23 April 2018 – via YouTube.
- 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
- New York Times, "George Murphy, Singer and Actor Who Became Senator, Dies at 89."
- Christensen, Terry, and Hass, Peter. Projecting Politics: Political Messages in American Films, p. 146
- 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.
- Zan Thompson (12 June 1986). "The Personal Side of George Murphy at Age 83". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Escape and Suspense!: Suspense - Death on Highway 99". www.escape-suspense.com. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
- Kirby, Walter (April 13, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved May 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Murphy.|
- George Murphy on IMDb
- George Murphy at the Internet Broadway Database
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Images of George Murphy's 1974 passport from www.passportland.com
- George Lloyd Murphy at Find a Grave
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from California
S. I. Hayakawa
Thruston Ballard Morton
|Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
|Response to the State of the Union address
Served alongside: Howard Baker, George H. W. Bush, Peter Dominick, Gerald Ford, Robert Griffin, Thomas Kuchel, Mel Laird, Bob Mathias, Dick Poff, Chuck Percy, Al Quie, Charlotte Reid, Hugh Scott, Bill Steiger, John Tower
Title next held byDonald Fraser, Scoop Jackson, Mike Mansfield, John McCormack, Patsy Mink, Ed Muskie, Bill Proxmire
|U.S. Senator (Class 1) from California
Served alongside: Thomas Kuchel, Alan Cranston
John V. Tunney