Bill Murray

Bill Murray Biography

(1950–)
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Actor Bill Murray is a comedy icon best known for his popular 'Saturday Night Live' characters and movie classics such as 'Meatballs,' 'Caddyshack' and 'Ghostbusters.' He was nominated for an Oscar for his seriocomic role in 'Lost in Translation.'

Who Is Bill Murray?

Born in 1950 in Illinois, Bill Murray eventually relocated to New York City, where he took his comedic talents to radio's National Lampoon Hour. In 1975, he was in an off-Broadway spin-off of the comedy radio show when Howard Cosell recruited him for a show called Saturday Night Live. Meanwhile, Lorne Michaels had his own Saturday Night Live running concurrently, and when Murray joined the cast in 1976, he began crafting the comedic persona that became his calling card for many films to come, from Stripes to Caddyshack. In his later career, Murray took on more seriocomic roles in many of director Wes Anderson's movies, as well as Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003), which earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor.

Early Life

Actor and comedian Bill Murray was born William J. Murray on September 21, 1950, in Wilmette, Illinois. The fifth of nine children, Murray was a self-proclaimed troublemaker, whether it was getting kicked out of Little League or being arrested at age 20 for attempting to smuggle close to nine pounds of marijuana through Chicago's O'Hare Airport. In an attempt to find direction in his life, he joined his older brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, in the cast of Chicago's Second City improvisational comedy troupe.

'Saturday Night Live'

Murray eventually relocated to New York City, where he took his comedic talents on air in the radio show National Lampoon Hour (1973-74) alongside Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and John Belushi. In 1975, both Murray brothers were in an off-Broadway spin-off of the radio show when Bill was spotted by sportscaster Howard Cosell, who recruited him for the cast of his ABC variety program Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell (1975-76). On NBC, a program also named Saturday Night Live (1975- ) was creating a much bigger sensation. A year later, producer Lorne Michaels tapped Murray to replace Chevy Chase, who had moved on to pursue a film career.

It was on the set of Saturday Night Live that Murray created the sleazy, insincere comedic character that became his calling card for many films to come. He also earned an Emmy award for Outstanding Writing for his work on the show.

Movies

'Meatballs'

It didn't take long for Murray to move from the small screen to the big screen, and his first major film role was in the 1979 box office hit Meatballs. This was followed by the biographical flop Where the Buffalo Roam (1980), in which Murray starred as gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

'Caddyshack,' 'Stripes, 'Tootsie,' 'Ghostbusters'

Murray redeemed himself later that year by going back to his comedic roots with the cult classic Caddyshack. He continued with a string of successes in film, including the Army farce Stripes (1981), Tootsie (1982) and Ghostbusters (1984), the latter of which co-starred Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The comedy was one of the decade's biggest hits, earning almost $300 million worldwide and spawning a sequel, a cartoon series, action figures and even a chart-topping theme song.

'The Razor's Edge,' 'Little Shop of Horrors'

Murray's next move caught loyal fans off guard. He starred in and co-wrote an adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel The Razor's Edge in 1984, which had been a lifelong dream. The hairpin turn from farce to literary drama proved too sharp, and the film was a failure. Murray spent the next several years away from Hollywood, only making a cameo appearance in the 1986 musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors.

'Scrooged,' 'Groundhog Day'

Murray finally made his comeback in 1988 with Scrooged, a darkly comedic version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. While it performed moderately well, it was not the smash many predicted—nor was 1989's Ghostbusters II. But Scrooged went on to become a holiday classic, and it runs seemingly around the clock at Christmastime. In 1991, Murray starred in What About Bob?, which was an unqualified hit, and followed with the equally acclaimed Groundhog Day in 1993 and Ed Wood in 1994. 

'Rushmore'

In 1998, Murray played what many believed to be one of his finest roles in Wes Anderson's Rushmore. As a business tycoon competing with an eccentric 15-year-old for the affections of a first grade teacher, Murray won best supporting actor from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. The film's success helped put him back at the forefront, and Murray was added to Anderson's stable of go-to actors. He drew further exposure that year from his appearance as a sleazy lawyer in the controversial Wild Things.

'The Royal Tenenbaums,' Oscar Nomination for 'Lost in Translation'

In 1999, Murray appeared in Tim Robbins' Cradle Will Rock, and the following year he played the affably dense Bosley in the Charlie's Angels remake. The actor again gained critical praise for his performance in Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), but it was his role as aging movie star Bob Harris in Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation (2003), opposite Scarlett Johannson, that led to some of the strongest reviews of his career and his first Academy Award nomination.

'The Life Aquatic,' 'The Darjeeling Limited'

In 2004, Murray voiced Garfield in Fox's live-action adaptation of the comic-strip feline and teamed up yet again with director Anderson for the offbeat comedy The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Murray then made a cameo in the Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited (2007), following with starring turns in the comedy Get Smart (2008) and the children's adventure film City of Ember (2008). In 2009, continuing his work in the realm of dramas, he starred in Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control.

'Hyde Park on Hudson,' 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Murray earned rave reviews for his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012), about Roosevelt's relationship with his distant cousin and confidante Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney). He then reunited with Anderson for Moonrise Kingdom that same year and for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), which featured Jude Law and Ralph Fiennes among the ensemble cast.

'St. Vincent,' 'Olive Kitteridge'

Also in 2014, Murray appeared in The Monuments Men, with George Clooney, Matt Damon and John Goodman, and earned a lead actor Golden Globe nomination for his role in the comedy St. Vincent, co-starring Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts. That same year he starred as Jack Kennison in the acclaimed HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge, for which he earned his second Emmy Award. In 2015, Murray was seen in the comedy Rock the Kasbah portraying a music manager who starts to handle the career of an Afghani teen.

'Ghostbusters' Reboot and Sequel

In 2016, Murray provided voice work for The Jungle Book and appeared in the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters, as supernatural skeptic Martin Heiss. After joining longtime collaborator Anderson yet again, as the voice of one of the main canines in the stop-motion flick Isle of Dogs (2018), Murray appeared in a pair of 2019 zombie flicks, The Dead Don't Die and Zombieland: Double Tap. Next up was a return to one of the fame-making roles of his early career with the scheduled July 2020 arrival of Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Personal Life

Murray was married to Margaret "Mickey" Kelley from 1981 to 1994. They have two sons, Homer and Luke. In 1997, he married Jennifer Butler, with whom he has four sons: Jackson, Cal, Cooper and Lincoln. They divorced in 2008.

In 2016, Murray enjoyed one of the biggest honors of his career as the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Outside of acting, Murray has been involved in the restaurant business with his siblings. The Murray Bros. Caddyshack Restaurant opened in St. Augustine, Florida, in 2001, and in 2018 the crew introduced a second location at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.

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