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.
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'
He 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. 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.
Blockbuster Comedies and Hiatus
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.
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.
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, followed by the equally acclaimed Groundhog Day in 1993 and Ed Wood in 1994.
'Rushmore' and 'Translation'
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 the actor back at the forefront, and Murray was added to Anderson's stable of go-to actors. Murray drew further exposure that year from his appearance as a sleazy lawyer in the controversial Wild Things.
In 1999, he appeared in Tim Robbins's Cradle Will Rock and in 2000 he played the affably dense Bosley in the Charlie's Angels remake. In 2001, he once again gained critical praise for his role in Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums. In 2003, Murray signed on to voice 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 (2004). The same year, Murray received an Academy Award nomination for his starring role in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003).
For his next performance, Murray made a cameo in the Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited (2007), following that with starring turns in the comedy Get Smart 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.
Recent Roles and Award Consideration
More recently, Murray earned rave reviews for his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012). The film follows Roosevelt's relationship with his distant cousin and confidante Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney). He also reunited with Anderson for a role in Moonrise Kingdom that same year.
Murray was also nominated for a lead actor Golden Globe for his role in the comedy St. Vincent (2014), 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.
In 2016, Murray provided voice work for The Jungle Book and appeared in a reboot of Ghostbusters, as supernatural skeptic Martin Heiss. That year, he also enjoyed one of the biggest honors of his career as the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
The actor soon joined forces with longtime collaborator Anderson once again, as the voice of one of the main canines in the stop-motion flick Isle of Dogs (2018).
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.
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. The sports-themed bar and grill features an array of menu options, including its signature crispy potato golf balls.
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