Michael Murphy (actor)

Michael George Murphy (born May 5, 1938) is an American film, television and stage actor. He often plays unethical or morally ambiguous characters in positions of authority, including politicians, executives, and lawyers.[1] He is also known for his frequent collaborations with director Robert Altman, having appeared in twelve films, TV series and miniseries directed by Altman from 1963 to 2004, including the title role in the miniseries Tanner '88.[2] He is also known for his roles in films like Manhattan, An Unmarried Woman, Nashville, The Year of Living Dangerously, Phase IV, The Front, Shocker, Magnolia and Batman Returns.

Michael Murphy
Michael George Murphy

(1938-05-05) May 5, 1938 (age 83)
Years active1963–present
(m. 1988; div. 2009)

Early lifeEdit

Murphy was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Georgia Arlyn (née Money), a teacher, and Bearl Branton Murphy, a salesman.[3] After serving in the United States Marine Corps, Murphy attended the University of Arizona and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).[2][4]

He taught English and drama at University High School (Los Angeles) before pursuing an acting career.[2][5][6]


Murphy is best known for his performances as Jill Clayburgh's adulterous husband Martin in Paul Mazursky's An Unmarried Woman (1978), as Woody Allen's morally ambiguous best friend Yale in Manhattan (1979), as ethically enigmatic lawyer Alan Kligman in Magnolia (1999), and as the star of Garry Trudeau and Robert Altman's HBO miniseries Tanner '88.

Murphy worked frequently with Altman, including as Captain Ezekiel Bradbury "Me Lay" Marston, IV, in M*A*S*H (1970), as Frank Shaft in Brewster McCloud (1970), as John Triplette in Nashville (1975), and as the title character in Tanner '88 (a role he reprised in the 2004 miniseries Tanner on Tanner). Other Altman films and television series in which Murphy appeared include the World War II TV series Combat! (in which Murphy appeared in 1963, on the show's second of its five seasons), Countdown (1968), That Cold Day in the Park (1969), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (1988) and Kansas City (1996).

Other notable film roles include The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Salvador (1986), Silver City (2004), and According to Greta (2009). His television roles include guest appearances on Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, L.A. Law and Judging Amy.

Murphy has also narrated many episodes of the PBS historical documentary series The American Experience and the public television travel series Weekends with Yankee. He appeared in Canadian film and television, including This Is Wonderland, for which he won two Gemini Awards, in 2004 and 2005, and was nominated for a third, in 2006.[1][2] He also appeared in the 2004 Canadian film Childstar.

Personal lifeEdit

Murphy was married to Canadian actress Wendy Crewson from 1988 until their divorce in January 2009. They have two children, Maggie (born 1989) and John (born 1992).[citation needed]

Murphy currently resides in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.[7]

Selected filmographyEdit


  1. ^ a b Rizov, Vadim. ""I Don't Ever Want to Cheat on a Woman Again": Actor Michael Murphy on An Unmarried Woman, Altman and The American Experience". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  2. ^ a b c d "Michael Murphy | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  3. ^ "Michael Murphy Biography (1938-)". Film Reference. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  4. ^ "Michael Murphy Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived December 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ University High (2016-06-06). "Class of 1965 Chieftain Yearbook". UHEF. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  6. ^ "University High School Class of 1965". www.unihi65.com. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  7. ^ News Center Maine (February 21, 2018). How actor Michael Murphy went from manners school to Maine (Video).

External linksEdit