September 21, 1950
William James "Bill" Murray is an American actor and comedian. He first gained exposure on Saturday Night Live in which he earned an Emmy Award and later went on to star in various comedy films, including Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Ghostbusters (1984), What About Bob? (1991), and Groundhog Day (1993).
Murray gained additional critical acclaim later in his career, starring in Lost in Translation (2003), which earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination, the indie comedy-drama Broken Flowers (2005) and a series of films directed by Wes Anderson, including Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), and Moonrise Kingdom (2012).
Murray was born and raised in Wilmette, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago. He is the son of Lucille (née Collins), a mail room clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, a lumber salesman. Murray and his eight siblings were raised in a Catholic Irish American family. Their father died in 1967 from complications of diabetes, when Bill was 17 years old.
As a youth, Murray read children's biographies of American heroes like Kit Carson, Wild Bill Hickok, and Davy Crockett. He attended St. Joseph grade school and Loyola Academy. During his teen years, he worked as a golf caddy to fund his education at the Jesuit high school. One of his sisters had polio and his mother suffered several miscarriages. During his teen years he was the lead singer of a rock band called the Dutch Masters and took part in high school and community theater.
After graduating, Murray attended Regis University in Denver, Colorado, taking pre-medical courses. He quickly dropped out, returning to Illinois. Decades later, in 2007, Regis awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.
Three of his siblings are also actors: John Murray, Joel Murray, and Brian Doyle-Murray. A sister, Nancy, is an Adrian Dominican nun in Michigan, who has traveled the United States in a one-woman program, portraying St. Catherine of Siena. On September 21, 1970 police arrested Murray at Chicago's O'Hare Airport for trying to smuggle 10 lb (4.5 kg) of cannabis, which he had allegedly intended to sell. Apparently he was apprehended for the same crime on three consecutive days. Murray was convicted and later sentenced to probation.
With an invitation from his older brother, Brian, Murray got his start at The Second City in Chicago, an improvisational comedy troupe, studying under Del Close. In 1974, he moved to New York City and was recruited by John Belushi as a featured player on The National Lampoon Radio Hour.
Saturday Night Live
In 1975, an Off Broadway version of a Lampoon show led to his first television role as a cast member of the ABC variety show Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell that featured animal acts and little kids with loud voices. That same season, another variety show titled NBC's Saturday Night premiered. Cosell's show lasted just one season, canceled in early 1976.
After working in Los Angeles with the "guerrilla video" commune TVTV on several projects, Murray rose to prominence in 1976. He joined the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live for the show's second season, following the departure of Chevy Chase. Murray was with SNL for three seasons from 1977–1980.
A Rutland Weekend Television sketch Eric Idle brought for his appearance on SNL developed into the 1978 mockumentary All You Need Is Cash with Murray (alongside other SNL cast members) appearing as "Bill Murray the K", a send-up of New York radio host Murray the K, in a segment of the film that is a parody of the Maysles Brothers's documentary The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit.
During the first few seasons of SNL, Murray was in a romantic relationship with fellow cast member Gilda Radner.
Murray landed his first starring role with the film Meatballs in 1979. He followed this up with his portrayal of Hunter S. Thompson in 1980's Where the Buffalo Roam. In the early 1980s, he starred in a string of box-office hits including Caddyshack, Stripes, and Tootsie. Murray became the first guest on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman on February 1, 1982. He would later appear on the first episode of the Late Show with David Letterman in August 1993, when the show moved to CBS. On January 31, 2012 — 30 years after his first appearance with Letterman — Murray appeared again on his talk show.
Murray began work on a film adaptation of the novel The Razor's Edge. The film, which Murray also co-wrote, was his first starring role in a dramatic film. He later agreed to star in Ghostbusters, in a role originally written for John Belushi. This was a deal Murray made with Columbia Pictures in order to gain financing for The Razor's Edge. Ghostbusters became the highest-grossing film of 1984. The Razor's Edge, which was filmed before Ghostbusters but not released until after, was a box-office flop.
Upset over the failure of Razor's Edge, Murray took four years off from acting to study philosophy and history at the Sorbonne, frequent the Cinematheque in Paris, and spend time with his family in their Hudson River Valley home. During that time, his second son, Luke, was born. With the exception of a cameo appearance in the 1986 movie Little Shop of Horrors, he did not make any appearances in films, though he did participate in several public readings in Manhattan organized by playwright/director Timothy Mayer and in a production of Bertolt Brecht's A Man's A Man. Murray returned to films in 1988 with Scrooged and the sequel Ghostbusters II in 1989.
In 1990, Murray made his first and only attempt at directing when he co-directed Quick Change with producer Howard Franklin. His subsequent films What About Bob? (1991) and Groundhog Day (1993) were box-office hits and critically acclaimed. After a string of films that did not do well with audiences (one of the exceptions being his role in the 1996 comedy Kingpin), he received much critical acclaim for Wes Anderson's Rushmore for which he won Best Supporting Actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, National Society of Film Critics, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (tying with Billy Bob Thornton). Murray decided to take a turn towards more dramatic roles. Murray then experienced a resurgence in his career as a dramatic actor, taking on roles in Wild Things, Cradle Will Rock, Hamlet (as Polonius), and The Royal Tenenbaums.
In 2003, he appeared in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation and went on to earn a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, and an Independent Spirit Award, as well as Best Actor awards from several film critic organizations. He was considered a favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, but Sean Penn ultimately won the award for his performance in Mystic River. In an interview included on the Lost in Translation DVD, Murray states that this is his favorite movie in which he has appeared. Also in 2003, he appeared in a short cameo for the movie Coffee and Cigarettes, in which he played himself "hiding out" in a local coffee shop.
During this time Murray still appeared in comedic roles such as Charlie's Angels and Osmosis Jones. In 2004, he provided the voice of Garfield in Garfield: The Movie, and again in 2006 for Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties. (Later, Murray claimed he only took part because he was under the misguided impression the screenplay, co-written by Joel Cohen, was the work of Joel Coen.) In 2004, he made his third collaboration with Wes Anderson in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and also starred in Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers.
In 2005, Murray announced that he would take a break from acting as he had not had the time to relax since his new breakthrough in the late 1990s. He did return to the big screen for brief cameos in Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited and in Get Smart as Agent 13, the agent in the tree. In 2008, he played an important role in the post-apocalyptic film City of Ember, and in 2009, played himself in a cameo role in the zombie comedy Zombieland.
Murray provided the voice for the character Mr. Badger for the 2009 animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox. Though there was speculation that he might return to the Ghostbusters franchise for the rumored Ghostbusters 3, he dispelled such speculation in an interview with GQ. In March 2010, Bill Murray appeared on Late Show with David Letterman and talked about his return to Ghostbusters III, stating "I'd do it only if my character was killed off in the first reel". In an interview with GQ, Murray said: "You know, maybe I should just do it. Maybe it'd be fun to do." In the interview, when asked "Is the third Ghostbusters movie happening? What's the story with that?", Bill Murray replied, "It's all a bunch of crock." Despite this comment, later reports by Dan Aykroyd and Stefano Paginini suggest the movie is well under way, and the script has already been approved.
Bill is seen playing golf with Michael and Larry Bird with Stan Podolak praising him. He asks Michael if he could become an NBA player but Michael answers that he doesn't fit.
Then he's shocked when Michael gets sucked down into an hole and disappears, comically believing it to be a consequence of Stan's camera. He's shown to believe that Michael just hide from Stan due to the latter being too clingy.
Towards the end of the movie, Bill founds his way to the Tune World and helps Michael and the Looney Tunes to win their Basketball Game against the Monstars. After winning the game, Bill decides that he must retire from the Basketball world and he goes away as he's tired.
He's seen again assisting to Michael playing again for the NBA saying that he could be like him but Larry says that he has to accept that he's not meant to be a Basketball player.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
Bill doesn't technically appear in the movie due to Michael's absence and the lack of time but he does make a cameo in the credits. In his cameo he's seen in a photo playing Golf with Bugs (after the latter has finished in the real world).
Murray is an avid golfer who often plays in celebrity tournaments. His 1999 book Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf, part autobiography and part essay, expounds on his love of the game. In 2002, he and his brothers starred in the Comedy Central series, The Sweet Spot, which chronicled their adventures playing golf. Caddyshack, one of Murray's earliest film roles, has him playing assistant greens-keeper Carl Spackler who lives in the golf course's tool shed. The title of his book is derived from a scene he played in Caddyshack, narrating his own golf fantasy (which was listed as #92 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes list). Murray's love for golf is also displayed in Space Jam, Lost in Translation, and Zombieland.
On February 13, 2011, Murray, playing with tournament champion D. A. Points, won the Pro-Am championship at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Outside of show business
He is a partner with his brothers in Murray Bros. Caddy Shack, a restaurant located near St. Augustine.
He is a part-owner of the St. Paul Saints independent minor-league baseball team and occasionally travels to Saint Paul, Minnesota to watch the team's games. He also owns part of the Charleston RiverDogs, Hudson Valley Renegades, and the Brockton Rox. He invested in a number of other minor league teams in the past, including the Utica Blue Sox, Fort Myers Miracle, Salt Lake Sting (APSL), Catskill Cougars and Salt Lake City Trappers.
Being very detached from the Hollywood scene, Murray does not have an agent or manager and reportedly only fields offers for scripts and roles using a personal telephone number with a voice mailbox that he checks infrequently. This practice has the downside of sometimes preventing him from taking parts that he had auditioned for and was interested in, such as that of Sulley in Monsters, Inc., Bernard Berkman in The Squid and the Whale, Frank Ginsburg in Little Miss Sunshine and Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
During the filming of Stripes, Murray married Margaret Kelly on Super Bowl Sunday in Las Vegas on January 25, 1981. Later, they re-married in Chicago for their families. Margaret gave birth to two sons, Homer (born 1982) and Luke (born 1985). Luke is an assistant basketball coach at the University of Rhode Island. Following Murray's affair with Jennifer Butler, the couple divorced in 1996. In 1997, he married Butler. Together, they have four sons: Caleb (born January 11, 1993), Jackson (born October 6, 1995), Cooper (born January 27, 1997), and Lincoln (born May 30, 2001). Butler filed for divorce on May 12, 2008, accusing Murray of domestic violence, infidelity, and sex, marijuana and alcohol addiction. Their divorce was finalized on June 13, 2008.
Murray has homes in Los Angeles, California; Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; Charleston, South Carolina; and Palisades, New York, a suburb of New York City. Between 2008 and 2013, Murray maintained a residence in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
During the 2000 presidential campaign, Murray supported Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. Bill Murray donated one thousand dollars to former Governor of Nebraska Bob Kerrey's successful election to the United States Senate in 1988.
Murray is a fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago pro sports teams, especially the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears and the Chicago Bulls. (He was once a guest color commentator for a Cubs game during the 1980s.) Murray is an avid Quinnipiac University basketball fan, where his son served as head of basketball operations. Murray is a regular fixture at home games. He cheered courtside for the Illinois Fighting Illini's game against the University of North Carolina in the NCAA Basketball Tournament's championship game in 2005. He is a fixture at home games of those teams when in his native Chicago. After traveling to Florida during the Cubs playoff run to help "inspire" the team (Murray told Cubs slugger Aramis Ramírez he was very ill and needed two home runs to give him the hope to live), he was invited to the champagne party in the Cubs' clubhouse when the team clinched the NL Central in late September 2007, along with fellow actors John Cusack, Bernie Mac, James Belushi, and former Cubs legend Ron Santo. Murray appeared in Santo's documentary, This Old Cub.
As a Chicago native, Murray appeared at the 50th annual Chicago Air & Water Show in August 2008. He performed a tandem jump with the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. He was the M.C. for Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival on July 28, 2007, where he dressed in various guises of Clapton as he appeared through the years. He was MC again in 2010. Also because of his roots in the Chicago area, the founders of Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) Michael and Lilo Salmon, were able to contact him through his former sister-in-law for support.
In 1987 he made a sizable donation to assist in the development and building of the Nathalie Salmon House. This home has been able to provide affordable housing for low-income seniors. Michael and Lilo Salmon credited him as performing "miracles" for them.
- Accidentally broke Robert De Niro's nose during the filming of "Mad Dog and Glory".
- 1997 Recipient of the Sons of the Desert Annual Comedy Performer Award on April 19th, 1997.
- Appeared in "Scrooged" with three of his brothers.
- Father, with Mickey Kelley, of sons Homer Murray (b. 1982) and Luke Murray (b. 1985).
- Father, with Jennifer Butler, of sons: Caleb James Murray (born January 11, 1993), Jackson William Murray (born October 6, 1995), Cooper Jones Murray (born January 27, 1997) and Lincoln Darius Murray (born May 30, 2001).
- He owns a minor league baseball team in Charleston, SC, called the Riverdogs.
- Related through marriage to guitar player, lyricist and singer Chris Luxem.
- Set to become part-owner of his third minor league baseball team, the new Brockton Rox, in Mass., with friend Van Schley.
- Has become the unofficial patron saint of the forums of the Football Manager website, home to one of the biggest selling PC games of all time.
- Was bitten by the groundhog twice on the "Groundhog Day" set in 1992.
- He is a diehard Chicago Cubs fan. During the Cubs playoff run in 2003, he was on location in Italy, but he had it written into his contract that he'd get a satellite feed of the playoffs.
- His role in "Ghostbusters" was originally intended for fellow SNL star John Belushi.
- Shares two characters with the late Lorenzo Music. He played Peter Venkman in the film "Ghostbusters", while Lorenzo played Venkman in the animated series, "The Real Ghost Busters". Lorenzo was also the voice of Garfield in numerous cartoons, while Bill provides Garfield's voice in "Garfield".
- He was rated number 1 in Comedy Central's newest show 'Mouthing Off: 51 Greatest Smartasses.
- His home is in upstate New York, although he is more frequently working elsewhere during the year.
- Performed the vocals for the song "The Best Thing" in the John Waters film "Polyester"
- In 2001, he starred with Sigourney Weaver in an Off-Off-Broadway play called "The Guys," in which he played a fire captain who lost eight of his men on 9/11. In the movie version, Murray's role was played by Anthony LaPaglia.
- Co-owner, with brothers Brian, Joel and John, of the Murray Brothers Caddyshack restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida (actually, in St. Augustine, Florida, inside the World Golf Village complex).
- He often works with the directors Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, Wes Anderson, and Jim Jarmusch.
- Sofia Coppola wrote the lead role of Bob Harris in "Lost in Translation", with Murray specifically in mind. She did not know the actor and even enlisted the help of her famous father, Francis Ford Coppola, to track down the sometimes quite elusive Murray. Once he finally read the script, though, he agreed to do it on the spot. Murray and Sofia Coppola are now good friends.
- He has rubbed some collaborators the wrong way because he has a tendency to re-write and improvise his way through scripts until many of his scenes barely resembles the original versions. Most collaborators ultimately find, though, it's to the improvement of the films.
- Is a fan of the Illini men's basketball team.
- The part of Boon in National Lampoon's "Animal House" was originally written with him in mind, but due to a scheduling conflict, he had to turn it down.
- Has said that "Oklahoma!" is his favorite musical.
- Has no agent, no business manager, or favorite hair and make-up artist. He travels without an entourage.
- He was considered for the role of Detective John Kimble in "Kindergarten Cop". The part eventually went to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Was considered for the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in the 1989 "Batman" film when it was set to be identical to the 1960s TV Series before Tim Burton came along.
- Was considered for the role of Willy Wonka in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".
- His performance as Carl Spackler in "Caddyshack" is ranked #18 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
- Was considered for the role of Buzz Lightyear in "Toy Story".
- Murray is one of only three American actors who were nominated for an Oscar for a movie that is set in the territory of Japan. The other two were Marlon Brando and Red Buttons for "Sayonara".
- Turned down Steve Carell's role in "Little Miss Sunshine", which became one of the few choices in his career that he regretted.
- Voiced Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in an early Fantastic Four radio show.
- Murray is a huge fan of Chicago pro sports teams, especially the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bears.
- Was a guest on the very first episode of "The Late Show with David Letterman".
- Was considered and tested for the voice role of Sulley in "Monsters, Inc.", but the director, Pete Docter, said that when the filmmakers decided to offer it to Murray, they were unable to make contact with him and took that to mean "no".
- Has appeared with both Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie" and Dustin's brother Todd Hoffman in "Meatballs".
- An early promotional reel for "The Real Ghost Busters" featured a different character design for the animated version of Murray's character Peter Venkman, a design that bore more of a resemblance to Murray himself as opposed to the final character design, which gave Venkman a slimmer, sleeker, more chiseled "pretty boy" look.
- Was considered for the role of Han Solo in "Star Wars".
- Murray and Dan Aykroyd reprised their "Ghostbusters" characters to visit a terminally ill child who was a fan of the film and wanted to meet them.
- Was a frequent collaborator with Harold Ramis throughout the 1980s, but their working relationship ended during the filming of "Groundhog Day" due to differing views on what the film should be: Ramis claims that Murray wanted the film to be more philosophical, while Ramis himself simply meant for it to be a comedy.
- Ramis also cites that Murray's personal problems at the time (namely the ending of his first marriage) had a negative effect on his work ethic, causing him to be uncharacteristically harsh during filming, as another reason for the end of their working relationship.
- Is portrayed by Mather Zickel in "Gilda Radner: It's Always Something".
- Dan Aykroyd nicknamed him "The Murricane" for his notorious mood swings.
- His pockmarked face is due to acne problems he experienced as a teenager.
- Was considered for the role of Eddie Valiant in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". The part eventually went to Bob Hoskins.
- Ex-wife Jennifer Butler filed for divorce on May 2008 on the grounds of drug addiction, physical abuse, adultery and abandonment.
- Lives in Valley Center, Malibu, California, Palisades, New York and Sullivans Island, South Carolina.
- He appears in four of the American Film Institute's 100 Funniest Movies: "Tootsie" at #2, "Ghostbusters" at #28, "Groundhog Day" at #34 and "Caddyshack" at #71.
- Appeared in "Zombieland" as a favor to Woody Harrelson, movie co-star and big "Bill Murray" fan.