Audie L. Murphy

    Newer Older

    Audie Leon Murphy (June 20, 1924 – May 28, 1971), was the United States' most decorated combat soldier of World War II. He later became an actor and singer/songwriter.

    Among his thirty three awards and decorations was the Medal of Honor, the highest military award for bravery that can be given to any individual in the United States of America, for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." Murphy received every decoration for valor that the U.S. had to offer, some of them more than once, and five decorations by France and Belgium. He served three years active service as a combat soldier in World War II. Murphy was released from the Army as an active member and reassigned to inactive status on September 21, 1945.

    Audie Murphy and his wife, Pamela Archer.Audie Murphy was the son of poor Texas sharecroppers, Emmett and Josie Bell Murphy. He was born near Kingston, Texas (Hunt County). He grew up in nearby Celeste, Texas (Hunt County). He went to school in Celeste until the eighth grade when he dropped out to help raise his family. He also lived in the rural area of Farmersville and later at Greenville, Texas. Murphy was the sixth of twelve children, only nine of whom survived to see their eighteenth birthday. Food was scarce and the Murphy family was very poor. Before his ninth birthday, he had become a decent shot, hunting rabbits and squirrels to help put food on the table. Sometimes he could only afford a single shell in his rifle to supply meat for his family of nine brothers and sisters. He became a very good shot, a skill which served him well later in life. In 1936, when Murphy was twelve, his father Emmett Murphy, deserted the family and never returned. At twelve, Murphy left school and was hired out as a farmer's helper, ploughing and picking cotton at a dollar a day to help make ends meet. He also went to work in a combination general store, garage and filling station in Greenville, Texas. At sixteen, Audie was working in a radio repair shop when tragedy struck again. He became an orphan when his mother, Josie Bell, died. He had to place the three youngest siblings in an orphanage according to his mother's last wish.

    Audie Murphy fought in World War II with such courage that he received every decoration for valor that the United States had to offer, plus another five decorations that were presented to him by Belgium and France. He was the most decorated U.S. soldier during WWII. Part of Murphy's appeal to many people was that he hardly fit the "image" of a war hero. He was a slight, somewhat skinny, shy and soft-spoken young man, with a boyish appearance (something he never lost throughout his life). Beginning his service as an Army Private, Murphy quickly rose to the enlisted rank of Staff Sergeant, was given a battlefield commission as Second Lieutenant, and company commander. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant prior to receiving his Medal of Honor. Murphy was credited with killing over 240 of the enemy while wounding and capturing many others. Murphy became a legend within the Third Infantry Division for his heroism. He was wounded three times and awarded the Purple Heart with Second Oak Leaf Cluster. Murphy served the rest of the war as a liaison officer and then returned to Texas after the war. After Murphy's discharge from the service, he went back to Texas to be welcomed to parades, banquets and speeches. He even had his photo hung at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas.

    Murphy sufferred from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His first wife, Wanda Hendrix often talked of his struggle with his condition, claiming he had at one time held her at gun point. He was plagued by insomnia and depression. During the mid-1960s he became dependent for a time on doctor prescribed sleeping pills called Placidyl. When he recognized that he had become addicted to this prescription drug, he locked himself in a motel room. He stopped taking the sleeping pills and went through withdrawal symptoms for a week. Always an advocate for the needs of veterans, he broke the taboo about discussing war related mental problems after this experience. In a effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans, Audie Murphy spoke-out candidly about his personal problems with PTSD, then known as "Battle fatigue". He publicly called for United States government to give more consideration and study to the emotional impact war has on veterans and to extend health care benefits to address PTSD and other mental health problems of returning war veterans.

    Actor James Cagney invited Murphy to Hollywood in September 1945, when he saw Murphy's photo on the cover of Life Magazine on July 16, 1945. The next couple of years in California were hard times for Murphy. He became disillusioned from lack of work. He was broke and slept on the gymnasium floor of his friend, Terry Hunt. He finally received token acting parts in his first two films, Beyond Glory and Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven but his roles were very minor in these movies. Murphy's third movie, Bad Boy, was Murphy's first starring role.

    Murphy's 1949 autobiography "To Hell and Back" became a national bestseller. The 1955 film, of the same name was based on his book. The film grossed almost ten million dollars during its initial theatrical release, and, at the time, became Universal's biggest hit movie in the 43-year history of the studio. It held the record as Universal's highest-grossing motion picture until 1975, when it was surpassed by Steven Spielberg's Jaws. This film would not be released until October, 1955, but Universal believed the movie would be a big hit, so the studio gave Murphy latitude in choosing roles as long as they required a lot of action.
    For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Audie Murphy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1601 Vine Street. In the twenty five years that Murphy spent in Hollywood, he made a total of forty four feature films.

    In addition to acting in motion pictures, Murphy also became successful as a country music songwriter. While on a business trip on May 28, 1971, (Memorial Day Weekend) he was killed at the age of 46. His private plane was flying in fog and rain. It crashed on the side of Brush Mountain near Catawba, Virginia, some twenty miles west of Roanoke, Virginia. Five others including the pilot were also killed.

    On June 7, 1971, Audie Murphy was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. His gravesite, near the Amphitheater, is second most visited gravesite year round. President John F. Kennedy's grave is the most visited. At Arlington Cemetery, the tombstones of Medal of Honor winners are normally decorated in gold leaf, but Murphy had requested that his tombstone remained plain and inconspicous
    .

    Trivia about Audie Murphy

    Murphy's height was 5'5".

    Had only one buttock. Lost in battle.

    Was the orginial choice to play the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry.

    Had horrible nightmares and slept with a gun under his pillow.

    Purchased a Middle Eastern oil field in the 60's which was blown up during the Six Day War, causing him to file for bankruptcy.

    His highest grossing film was To Hell and Back (film).

    Would often say he had "no talent."

    His films earned him close to 3 million dollars in 23 years as an actor.

    Ironically, former WWII General and President Dwight Eisenhower did not enjoy Murphy's films saying his fight scenes were unbelievable due to his small stature.

    purpleslog, lfwlfw, extremecloseup, and 25 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 4 more comments

    1. StarrGazr 90 months ago | reply

      Excellent documentation! Would you please consider adding it to the Memorials pool.

    2. frnfnrj3l 88 months ago | reply

      Almost ashamed to think of what he and a lot of others went through and how easy my life is.

    3. frnfnrj3l 88 months ago | reply

      This image is being used on Wikipedia, thanks for sharing!

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audie_Murphy#Death

      commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Audie_Murphy's_Tombstone.jpg

    4. The Peters' 84 months ago | reply

      My Mother (11-18-24 to 05-25-94) loved Audie Murphy. He and Glen Ford were her two favorites and she carried pictures of them in her wallet until the day she died. Makes me smile to read this tribute. Thank you.

    5. dbking 84 months ago | reply

      Tom/Carolyn:
      Thanks so much for letting me know how this particular photo struck a chord for you. I always enjoy seeing comments such as yours on a personal connection a particular image holds for someone.

    6. California Swede - George Wester 82 months ago | reply

      What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful American.

    7. evaani 78 months ago | reply

      thank you for visiting his grave and in telling his story.

    8. laqvice 76 months ago | reply

      Audie Murphy was a brave man, but it was his humility and strength of character that made him a hero.

    9. Eric W. Hodel 75 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Greenville & Hunt County,TX, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

      This would be a most welcome addition, you've got the story and all. Not many of us here have seen this in person. My boss actually modeled for a large sculpture of Murphy because of their physical similarities. The statue stands along I-30 in Greenville in front of the Cotton Museum along with a veterans memorial.

    10. Eric W. Hodel 75 months ago | reply

      Thank you very much.

    11. StarrGazr 72 months ago | reply

      Funny thing. I clicked on a link to get here which directed me to this page before coming back to here. Weird!

      page

    12. Eric W. Hodel 72 months ago | reply

      That is weird! What's up with that?

    13. StarrGazr 72 months ago | reply

      I have no idea.

    14. dbking 72 months ago | reply

      StarrGazr & gtown eric: Bizarre, don't have a clue as to what may have happened.

    15. Seven Morris 69 months ago | reply

      I was named after a character he played, Seven Jones, in a movie called "Seven Ways From Sundown."

    16. Franks Photos - In Limbo 69 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called TOUR OF DUTY, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    17. ud_adams 66 months ago | reply

      nice tribute:)

    18. roberthuffstutter 64 months ago | reply

      Ike was not exactly tall. I saw him while stationed at nas north island in 1960. He signed the execution order for only us soldier executed in world war two. He played golf and masterminded d day. What else?

    19. thyme59 25 months ago | reply

      Audie Murphy was my childhood hero---I am 70yrs now---tried to see all of his movies when I was a child---my favorite movie with him was and still is GUNSMOKE---Mary Wells

    20. KEN1777 15 months ago | reply

      love to see his movies still do goes to show you it takes more than being big to be a man

    keyboard shortcuts: previous photo next photo L view in light box F favorite < scroll film strip left > scroll film strip right ? show all shortcuts