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Audie Murphy

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Subject: Gunpoint (film), Posse from Hell, Audie Murphy, The Red Badge of Courage (film), Today's featured article/March 17, 2015
Collection: 1925 Births, 1971 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, Accidental Deaths in Virginia, American Lyricists, American Male Film Actors, American Military Personnel of World War II, American People of Irish Descent, Audie Murphy, Burials at Arlington National Cemetery, Chevaliers of the Légion D'Honneur, Male Actors from Texas, Male Western (Genre) Film Actors, National Guard of the United States Officers, People from Hunt County, Texas, Recipients of the Bronze Star Medal, Recipients of the Croix De Guerre (Belgium), Recipients of the Croix De Guerre (France), Recipients of the Croix De Guerre 1939–1945 (France), Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross (United States), Recipients of the Legion of Merit, Recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, Recipients of the Silver Star, Songwriters from Texas, United States Army Medal of Honor Recipients, United States Army Officers, Victims of Aviation Accidents or Incidents in the United States, Western (Genre) Television Actors, World War II Recipients of the Medal of Honor, Writers from Texas
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Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy
Audie Murphy in full dress U.S. Army uniform
Birth name Audie Leon Murphy
Born (1925-06-20)20 June 1925
Kingston, Hunt County, Texas, U.S.
Died 28 May 1971(1971-05-28) (aged 45)
Brush Mountain, near Catawba, Virginia, U.S.
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Years of service
Other work Actor; songwriter
Signature Audie Murphy
Website . MurphyAudie L

Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II, receiving every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. At the age of 19, Murphy received the Medal of Honor after single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.

Murphy was born into a large sharecropper family in Hunt County, Texas. His father abandoned them, and his mother died when he was a teenager. Murphy left school in fifth grade to pick cotton and find other work to help support his family; his skill with a hunting rifle was a necessity for putting food on the table. Murphy's older sister helped him to falsify documentation about his birth date to meet the minimum-age requirement for enlisting in the military, and after being turned down by the Navy and the Marine Corps he enlisted in the Army. He first saw action in the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Battle of Anzio, and in 1944 was part of the liberation of Rome and invasion of southern France. Murphy fought at Montélimar, and led his men on a successful assault at the L'Omet quarry near Cleurie in northeastern France in October.

After the war Murphy enjoyed a 21-year acting career. He played himself in the 1955 autobiographical To Hell and Back based on his 1949 memoirs of the same name, but most of his films were westerns. He made guest appearances on celebrity television shows and starred in the series Whispering Smith. Murphy was a fairly accomplished songwriter, and bred quarter horses in California and Arizona, becoming a regular participant in horse racing.

Suffering from what would today be termed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he slept with a loaded handgun under his pillow and looked for solace in addictive sleeping pills. In the last few years of his life he was plagued by money problems, but refused offers to appear in alcohol and cigarette commercials because he did not want to set a bad example. Murphy died in a plane crash in Virginia in 1971 shortly before his 46th birthday, and was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.


  • Early life 1
  • World War II service 2
    • Mediterranean Theater 2.1
    • European Theater 2.2
    • Decorations 2.3
    • Postwar military service 2.4
    • Post-traumatic stress 2.5
  • Texas Army National Guard 3
  • Film career 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Death and commemorations 6
  • Song writing 7
  • See also 8
  • Further reading 9
  • References 10
    • Footnotes 10.1
    • Citations 10.2
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Audie Leon Murphy was born the seventh of twelve children to Emmett Berry Murphy and his wife Josie Bell Killian on 20 June 1925, in Kingston, Hunt County, Texas.[ALM 1] The Murphys were sharecroppers of Irish descent.[5]

As a child, Murphy was a loner with mood swings and an explosive temper.[6] He grew up in Texas, around Farmersville, Greenville, and Celeste, where he attended elementary school.[7] His father drifted in and out of the family's life and eventually deserted them. Murphy dropped out of school in fifth grade and got a job picking cotton for a dollar a day to help support his family; he also became skilled with a rifle, hunting small game to help feed them. After his mother died of endocarditis and pneumonia[8] in 1941, he worked at a radio repair shop and at a combination general store, garage and gas station in Greenville.[9] Hunt County authorities placed his three youngest siblings in Boles Children's Home,[10] a Christian orphanage in Quinlan. After the war, he bought a house in Farmersville for his oldest sister Corrine and her husband Poland Burns. His other siblings briefly shared the home.[11]

The loss of his mother stayed with Murphy throughout his life. He later stated:

She died when I was sixteen. She had the most beautiful hair I've ever seen. It reached almost to the floor. She rarely talked; and always seemed to be searching for something. What it was I don't know. We didn't discuss our feelings. But when she passed away, she took something of me with her. It seems I've been searching for it ever since.[12]

World War II service

Murphy had always wanted to be a soldier, and after the Japanese Fort Meade for advanced infantry training.[18] During basic training he earned the Marksman Badge with Rifle Component Bar and Expert Badge with Bayonet Component Bar.[19]

Mediterranean Theater

Murphy was shipped to Casablanca in French Morocco on 20 February 1943. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division,[20] which trained under the command of Major General Lucian Truscott.[21] [20][21] He participated as a platoon messenger with his division at Arzew in Algeria in rigorous training for the Allied assault landings in Sicily,[20][22] and was promoted to private first class on 7 May and corporal on 15 July.[23][24]

When the 3rd Infantry landed at Licata, Sicily, on 10 July, Murphy was a division runner.[25][26] On a scouting patrol, he killed two fleeing Italian officers near Canicattì.[27] Sidelined with illness for a week when Company B arrived in Palermo on 20 July,[28] he rejoined them when they were assigned to a hillside location protecting a machine-gun emplacement, while the rest of the 3rd Infantry Division fought at San Fratello en route to the Allied capture of the transit port of Messina.[29]

Murphy participated in the September 1943 mainland Salerno landing at Battipaglia.[30] While on a scouting party along the Volturno River, he and two other soldiers were ambushed by German machine-gun fire, which killed one of the Americans. Murphy and the other survivor responded by killing five German soldiers with hand grenades and machine-gun fire.[31] While taking part in the October Allied assault on the Volturno Line,[30][32] near Mignano Monte Lungo Hill 193, he and his company repelled an attack by seven German soldiers, killing three and taking four prisoner.[33] Murphy was promoted to sergeant on 13 December.[34]

In January 1944, Murphy was promoted to staff sergeant.[34] He was hospitalized in Naples with malaria on 21 January, and was unable to participate in the initial landing at the Anzio beachhead.[35] He returned on 29 January and participated in the First Battle of Cisterna,[36][37] and was made platoon sergeant of Company B platoon following the battle.[38] He returned with the 3rd Division to Anzio, where they remained for months.[39] Taking shelter from the weather in an abandoned farmhouse on 2 March, Murphy and his platoon killed the crew of a passing German tank.[40] He then crawled out alone close enough to destroy the tank with rifle grenades, for which he received the Bronze Star with "V" Device.[41][42] Murphy continued to make scouting patrols to take German prisoners before being hospitalized for a week on 13 March with a second bout of malaria. Sixty-one infantry officers and enlisted men of Company B, 15th Infantry, including Murphy, were awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge on 8 May.[43] Murphy was also awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Bronze Star.[44][45] American forces liberated Rome on 4 June, and Murphy remained bivouacked in Rome with his platoon throughout July.[46]

European Theater

Murphy received the Distinguished Service Cross[47][48] for action taken on 15 August 1944, during the first wave of the Allied invasion of southern France.[49] After landing on Yellow Beach near Ramatuelle,[50] Murphy's platoon was attacked by German soldiers while making their way through a vineyard. He retrieved a machine gun that had been detached from the squad and returned fire at the German soldiers, killing two and wounding one.[50] Two Germans exited a house about 100 yards (91 m) away and appeared to surrender; when Murphy's best friend responded, they shot and killed him. Murphy advanced alone on the house under direct fire. He killed six, wounded two, and took eleven prisoner.[50]

Murphy was with the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment during the 27–28 August offensive at Montélimar that secured the area from the Germans.[49][51] Along with the other soldiers who took part in the action, he received the Presidential Unit Citation.[52]

Murphy's first Purple Heart was for a heel wound received in a mortar shell blast on 15 September 1944 in northeastern France.[53][54][55] His first Silver Star came after he killed four and wounded three at a German machine gun position on 2 October at L'Omet quarry in the Cleurie river valley.[47] Three days later, Murphy crawled alone towards the Germans at L'Omet, carrying an SCR-536 radio and directing his men for an hour while the Germans fired directly at him. When his men finally took the hill, 15 Germans had been killed and 35 wounded. Murphy's actions earned him a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Silver Star.[56] He was awarded a battlefield commission to second lieutenant on 14 October, which elevated him to platoon leader.[57] While en route to Brouvelieures on 26 October, the 3rd Platoon of Company B was attacked by a German sniper group. Murphy captured two before being shot in the hip by a sniper; he returned fire and shot the sniper between the eyes. At the 3rd General Hospital at Aix-en-Provence,[58] the removal of gangrene from the wound caused partial loss of his hip muscle and kept him out of combat until January.[47] Murphy received his first Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Purple Heart for this injury.[59][60]

The Colmar Pocket, 850 square miles (2,200 km2) in the Vosges Mountains, had been held by German troops since November 1944.[61] On 14 January 1945, Murphy rejoined his platoon, which had been moved to the Colmar area in December.[62] He moved with the 3rd Division on 24 January to the town of Holtzwihr, where they faced a strong German counterattack.[63] He was wounded in both legs, for which he received a second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Purple Heart.[64] As the company awaited reinforcements on 26 January, he was made commander of Company B.[65]

The Germans scored a direct hit on an M10 tank destroyer, setting it alight, forcing the crew to abandon it.[66] Murphy ordered his men to retreat to positions in the woods, remaining alone at his post, shooting his M1 carbine and directing artillery fire via his field telephone while the Germans aimed fire directly at his position.[67] Murphy mounted the abandoned, burning tank destroyer and began firing its .50 caliber machine gun at the advancing Germans, killing a squad crawling through a ditch towards him.[68] For an hour, Murphy stood on the tank destroyer returning German fire from foot soldiers and advancing tanks, killing or wounding 50 Germans. He sustained a leg wound during his stand, and stopped only after he ran out of ammunition.[66] Murphy rejoined his men, disregarding his own wound, and led them back to repel the Germans. He insisted on remaining with his men while his wounds were treated.[66] For his actions that day, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.[69] The 3rd Infantry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions at the Colmar Pocket, giving Murphy a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for the emblem.[70]

On 16 February, Murphy was promoted to first lieutenant[71] and was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service from 22 January 1944 to 18 February 1945.[72] He was moved from the front lines to Regimental Headquarters and made a liaison officer.[73]


Army version of the Medal of Honor

The United States additionally honored Murphy's war contributions with the American Campaign Medal,[74] the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead device and campaign stars,[74] the World War II Victory Medal,[74] and the Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp.[42][74] France recognized his service with the French Legion of HonorGrade of Chevalier,[75] the French Croix de guerre with Silver Star,[76] the French Croix de guerre with Palm,[77] the French Liberation Medal[42][74] and the French Fourragère in Colors of the Croix de guerre,[42] which was authorized for all members of the 3rd Infantry Division who fought in France during World War II. Belgium awarded Murphy the Belgian Croix de guerre with 1940 Palm.[77]

Brigadier General Ralph B. Lovett and Lieutenant Colonel Hallet D. Edson recommended Murphy for the Medal of Honor.[78][79] Near Salzburg, Austria on 2 June 1945,[80] Lieutenant General A.M. Patch[11] presented Murphy with the Medal of Honor and Legion of Merit for his actions at Holtzwihr. When asked after the war why he had seized the machine gun and taken on an entire company of German infantry, he replied, "They were killing my friends."[81] Murphy received every U.S. military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army for his World War II service.[ALM 3]

Postwar military service

Inquiries were made through official channels about the prospect of Murphy attending West Point upon his return to the United States, but he never enrolled.[4][84] Author Don Graham wrote that Murphy suggested the idea and then dropped it, possibly when he realized the extent of academic preparation needed to pass the entrance exam.[85] Murphy was one of several military personnel who received orders on 8 June 1945 to report to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, for temporary duty and reassignment.[4][84] Upon arrival on 13 June, he was one of four assigned to Fort Sam Houston Army Ground & Services Redistribution Station and sent home for 30 days of recuperation, with permission to travel anywhere within the United States during that period.[4] While on leave, Murphy was feted with parades, banquets, and speeches.[86] He received a belated Good Conduct Medal on 21 August.[87] He was discharged with the rank of first lieutenant at a 50 percent disability classification on 21 September and transferred to the Officers' Reserve Corps.[ALM 4]

Post-traumatic stress

Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital in San Antonio, Texas

Murphy had been plagued since his military service with insomnia and bouts of depression, and slept with a loaded pistol under his pillow.[89][90] A post-service medical examination on 17 June 1947 revealed symptoms of headaches, vomiting, and nightmares about war. His medical records indicated that he took sleeping pills to help prevent nightmares.[91] During the mid-1960s, he recognized his dependence on Placidyl, and locked himself alone in a hotel room for a week to break the addiction successfully.[11] Post-traumatic stress levels exacerbated his innate moodiness,[6] and surfaced in episodes that friends and professional colleagues found alarming.[92] His first wife, Wanda Hendrix, stated that he once held her at gunpoint.[93] She witnessed her husband being guilt-ridden and tearful over newsreel footage of German war orphans.[94] Murphy briefly found a creative stress outlet in writing poetry after his Army discharge. His poem "The Crosses Grow on Anzio" appeared in his book To Hell and Back,[95] but was attributed to the fictitious character Kerrigan.[96]

In an effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean War and Vietnam War veterans, Murphy spoke out candidly about his own problems with posttraumatic stress disorder.[97] It was known during Murphy's lifetime as "battle fatigue" and "shell shock", terminology that dated back to World War I. He called on the government to give increased consideration and study to the emotional impact of combat experiences, and to extend health care benefits to war veterans.[98][99] As a result of legislation introduced by U.S. Congressman Olin Teague five months after Murphy's death in 1971, the Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital[100] in San Antonio, now a part of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, was dedicated in 1973.[101][102]

Texas Army National Guard

At the end of World War II, the 36th Infantry Division reverted to state control as part of the Texas Army National Guard,[103] and Murphy's friends Major General H. Miller Ainsworth and Brigadier General Carl L. Phinney were the 36th's commander and deputy commander respectively. After the 25 June 1950 commencement of the Korean War, Murphy began a second military career and was commissioned as a captain in the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard.[104][105] During his service he drilled new recruits in the summer training camps, and granted the Guard permission to use his name and image in recruiting materials.[106] Although he wanted to join the fighting and juggled training activities with his film career, the 36th Infantry Division was never sent to Korea.[107][108] At his request, he transferred to inactive status on 1 October 1951 because of his film commitments with MGM Studios, and returned to active status in 1955. Murphy was promoted to the rank of major by the Texas Army National Guard in 1956 and returned to inactive status in 1957.[109] In 1969, his official separation from the Guard transferred him to the United States Army Reserve.[110] He remained with the USAR until his transfer to the Retired Reserve in 1969.[111]

Film career

Throughout an acting career spanning from 1948 to 1969, Murphy made more than 40 feature films and one television series.[ALM 5] When actor and producer James Cagney saw 16 July 1945 issue of Life magazine depicting Murphy as the "most decorated soldier",[83] he brought him to Hollywood. Cagney and his brother William signed him as a contract player for their production company and gave him training in acting, voice and dance.[113] They never cast Murphy in a movie and a personal disagreement ended the association in 1947.[114] Murphy later worked with acting coach Estelle Harman, and honed his diction by reciting dialogue from William Shakespeare and William Saroyan.[115]

Murphy moved into Terry Hunt's Athletic Club in Hollywood where he lived until 1948.[116][117] Hollywood writer David "Spec" McClure befriended Murphy, collaborating with him on Murphy's 1949 book To Hell and Back.[118] McClure used his connections to get Murphy a $500 bit part in Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven.[119] The agent of Wanda Hendrix, whom he had been dating since 1946,[120] got him a bit part in the 1948 Alan Ladd film Beyond Glory directed by John Farrow.[121] His 1949 film Bad Boy gave him his first leading role.[122] The film's financial backers refused to bankroll the project unless Murphy was given the lead;[123] thus, Allied Artists put aside their reservations about using an inexperienced actor and gave him the starring role.[124]

Murphy in The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

  • Basinger, Jeanine; Arnold, Jeremy (2003). The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre. Wesleyan University Press.  
  • Boggs, Johnny D (2011). Jesse James and the Movies. McFarland & Company, Inc.  
  • Brinkley, Douglas (2004). The World War II Desk Reference. Collins Reference.  
  • Cavileer, Sharon (2013). Virginia Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot Press.  
  • Champagne, Daniel R (2008). Dogface Soldiers: The Story of B Company, 15th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division: from Fedala to Salzburg, Audie Murphy and His Brothers in Arms. Merriam Press.  
  • Clarke, Jeffrey J; Smith, Robert Ross (1993). Riviera to the Rhine. United States Army in World War II. Center of Military History, United States Army.  
  • Cozad, W. Lee (2006). More Magnificent Mountain Movies. Sunstroke Media.  
  • Curtis, Tony; Golenbock, Peter (2009). American Prince: A Memoir. Three Rivers Press.  
  • DiLeo, John (2004). 100 Great Film Performances You Should Remember – But Probably Don't. Limelight Editions.  
  • Fredriksen, John C. (2010). The United States Army: A Chronology, 1775 to the Present. ABC-CLIO.  
  • Gossett, Sue (1996). The Films and Career of Audie Murphy. Empire Publishing.  
  • Graham, Don (1989). No Name on the Bullet. Viking.  
  • Herzberg, Bob (2005). Shooting Scripts. McFarland & Company, Inc.  
  • Huebner, Andrew J (2007). The Warrior Image: Soldiers in American Culture from the Second World War to the Vietnam Era. The University of North Carolina Press.  
  • Lewis, C. Jack (2002). White Horse, Black Hat: A Quarter Century on Hollywood's Poverty Row. Scarecrow Press.  
  • Lucas, John Meredyth (2004). Eighty Odd Years in Hollywood: Memoir of a Career in Film and Television. McFarland & Company, Inc.  
  • Maslowski, Peter; Winslow, Don (2005). Looking for a Hero: Staff Sergeant Joe Ronnie Hooper and the Vietnam War. University of Nebraska Press.  
  • Murphy, Audie (2002) [First published 1949]. To Hell and Back. Henry Holt and Co.  
  • Niemi, Robert (2006). History in the Media: Film And Television. ABC-CLIO.  
  • Nott, Robert (2005). Last of the Cowboy Heroes: The Westerns of Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, and Audie Murphy. McFarland & Company, Inc.  
  • O'Connor, John E.; Rollins, Peter C (2008). Why We Fought: America's Wars in Film and History. The University Press of Kentucky.  
  • O'Reilly, Bill (2010). Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama. William Morrow.  
  • Pitts, Michael R. (2012). Western Movies: A Guide to 5,105 Feature Films. McFarland & Company, Inc.  
  • Rausch, Andrew J; Dequina, Michael (2008). Fifty Filmmakers: Conversations With Directors from Roger Avary to Steven Zaillian. McFarland & Company, Inc.  
  • Redfern, Nick (2007). Celebrity Secrets Official Government Files on the Rich and Famous. Paraview Pocket Books.  
  • Roberts, Jerry (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors. Scarecrow Press.  
  • Rosen, David M (2012). Child Soldiers. ABC-CLIO.  
  • Ross, Lillian (1997). Picture. Modern Library.  
  • Simpson, Harold B. (1975). Audie Murphy, American Soldier. Hill Jr. College Press.  
  • Spiller, Roger J; Dawson, Joseph G (2010). The Texas Military Experience: From the Texas Revolution Through World War II. Texas A&M University Press.  
  • Tate, J. R (2006). Walkin' with the Ghost Whisperers. Stackpole Books.  
  • Whiting, Charles (2001). America's forgotten army: the story of the U.S. Seventh. St. Martin's Paperbacks.  
  • Willbanks, James H (2011). America's heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan. ABC-CLIO.  
  • Yoggy, Gary A. (1998). Back in the Saddle: Essays on Western Film and Television Actors. McFarland & Company, Inc.  
  • Young, William H; Young, Nancy K. (2010). World War II and the Postwar Years in America: A Historical and Cultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO.  


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  52. ^ Simpson 1975, p. 124.
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  100. ^ "Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital". U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 
  101. ^ "About the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)". U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  102. ^ Teague, Congressman Olin (13 October 1971). "Designating the Veteran's Administration Hospital in San Antonio Texas As the Audie L. Murphy Veterans' Memorial Hospital". Congressional Record. Washington, D.C.: Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  103. ^ Dawson III, Joseph G. "Thirty-Sixth Infantry Division". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
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  111. ^ "Scan of Retired Reserve request" (PDF). Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website. 18 April 1969. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
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  122. ^ Movies of the Month (April 1949). "Bad Boy". Boys' Life: 50. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
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  129. ^ Mauldin, Bill (11 June 1971). "Parting Shots". LIFE 70 (22): 77. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
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  140. ^ "Message to TAGO from H.D. Kight, Public Information Division, detailing an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show by Audie L. Murphy". U.S. National Archives and Records Administration ARC Identifier 299780. 24 September 1955. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  141. ^ Graham 1989, pp. 241–242, 244–246, 261.
  142. ^ a b Graham 1989, p. 263.
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  147. ^ Cozad 2006, pp. 221–222.
  148. ^ Maltin 2008, pp. 994–995.
  149. ^ "Ford Startime. The Man LC control no. 96500439". Library of Congress. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  150. ^ Broken Bridge, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration ARC Identifier 2569746, 1974, retrieved 12 October 2013 
  151. ^ Simpson 1975, p. 411.
  152. ^ Herzberg 2005, p. 153.
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  155. ^ "Willard Willingham filmography". New York Times. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
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  167. ^ Graham 1989, p. 174.
  168. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (28 April 1951). "Divorces". The Billboard: 48. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  169. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (5 May 1951). "Marriages". The Billboard: 48. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  170. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (22 March 1952). "Births". The Billboard: 55. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  171. ^ Simpson 1975, p. 269.
  172. ^ Graham 1989, p. 250.
  173. ^ "Homes Owned or Lived in By Audie Murphy". Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  174. ^ "Audie Murphy Ranch". Brookfield Residential. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  175. ^ Graham 1989, pp. 256–258.
  176. ^ Graham 1989, p. 307.
  177. ^ Scott, Vernon (22 September 1968). "One-Time Hero Audie Murphy is Now Broke and In Debt". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 8. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  178. ^ Landon, Tom (9 June 2013). "Audie Murphy crash site now well marked". The Roanoke Times. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  179. ^ Baskerville, Bill (31 May 1971). "Audie Murphy, five others, found dead". The Prescott Courier. p. 1. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  180. ^ Maslowski & Winslow 2005, p. 420.
  181. ^ McCarthy, Dennis (14 April 2010). "Pam Murphy, widow of actor Audie Murphy, was veterans' friend and advocate". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  182. ^ Colorado Court of Appeals. "Murphy v. Colorado Aviation Inc.". Leagle. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  183. ^ Graham 1989, p. 338.
  184. ^ Team Lee Audie Murphy Club. "Audie Murphy Biography". U.S. Army Fort Lee, Virginia. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  185. ^ "Biography of Audie Murphy". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  186. ^ Richard L. Rodgers. "Audie Murphy Research Foundation". 
  187. ^ Cavileer 2013, p. 290.
  188. ^ "Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960 with 1 star". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  189. ^ "Gov. Perry Awards Audie Murphy Texas Legislative Medal of Honor". Press Release. Office of Governor Rick Perry. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  190. ^ Texas Legislature. "Bill HCR3 Legislative Medal of Honor". State of Texas. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  191. ^ Slinkard, Caleb (21 August 2013). "Murphy finally gets medal". Herald Banner. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  192. ^ Root, Jay (20 June 2013). "Audie Murphy, a Texas Hero Still Missing One Medal". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  193. ^ SABATON – To Hell And Back (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO). YouTube. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  194. ^ a b Simpson 1975, p. 374.
  195. ^ Simpson 1975, pp. 374–376.
  196. ^ Simpson 1975, pp. 371, 373.
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  198. ^ Simpson 1975, p. 372.


  1. ^ a b Murphy's son Terry is the President of the Audie Murphy Research Foundation, which in both its biographical sketch and Murphy Family Tree list his year of birth as 1925.[1] Murphy's date of birth has been given as both 1925 and 1924 by Murphy himself. He seemed to go back and forth on the dates for the rest of his life. His sister Corrine Burns as his nearest living kin signed a notarized document attesting to the birth date of 20 June 1924 that Murphy put on his enlistment application, falsifying his year of birth in order to make him appear old enough to meet the U.S. Army age qualification for enlistment. Subsequently, all military records show the falsified date as his birth date.[2] His California driver's license showed a birth date of 1925.[3][4]
  2. ^ Conflicting information exists as to Murphy's date and place of enlistment. The Audie L. Murphy Memorial website has scanned documents from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration that include Corrinne Burns' statement and Murphy's "Induction Record", which shows him "Enlisted at Dallas, Texas" on 30 June 1942, and the line above it says "Accepted for service at Greenville, Texas". The National Register of Historic Places Listing added the Greenville post office as historic site number 74002081 in 1974, citing it as Murphy's place of enlistment, possibly referring to the act the military termed "Accepted for service". The NRHP also shows his enlistment date as 20 June 1942 which might be the date he was accepted for service.[11][13][14][15][16]
  3. ^ Murphy's war service was combat-related. Therefore, he did not receive the non-combat Soldier's Medal. Act of Congress (Public Law 446–69th Congress, 2 July 1926 (44 Stat. 780) established the Soldier's Medal for heroism "as defined in 10 USC 101(d), at the time of the heroic act who distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual combat with the enemy.")[82] At the end of his World War II service, Murphy became known as America's most decorated soldier.[83]
  4. ^ The Officers' Reserve Corps was originally one of several units of the United States Organized Reserve that also included the Enlisted Reserve Corps, Reserve Officers' Training Corps and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Organized Reserve was restructured during the Korean War and renamed the United States Army Reserve. The new structure was divided into the Ready Reserve, Standby Reserve and Retired Reserve.[84][88]
  5. ^ The exact count on the number of feature films Murphy made varies by source. The Hollywood Walk of Fame and other sources put his total number of feature films at 44.[112]
  6. ^ Henry Fleming is the Youth in Stephen Crane's novel. In the 1951 film, Fleming is played by Murphy as the unnamed character "The Youth". However, Fleming is addressed by name when other characters are speaking to him.[129]
  7. ^ YouTube has several uploaded versions of the 5-minute What's My Line segment that features Murphy as the mystery guest. Listed as Episode dated 3 July 1955 at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ 56-minute uploaded on YouTube as Audie Murphy Attends Beverly Hilton Grand Opening 1955. He appears at 28:48 and briefly talks with Hedda Hopper about how he once gave his medals away but had them replaced by the U.S. Army.
  9. ^ Alden Pyle is the American in Graham Greene's novel. In the 1958 film, Pyle is played by Murphy as the unnamed character "The American".[145]
  10. ^ The Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website has user-generated information on an Arizona quarter horse ranch Murphy purchased in 1956 and sold to Guy Mitchell in 1958.[173] While not stating that the use of Murphy's name and image were authorized by his estate, the website of the Menifee, California residential development named "Audie Murphy Ranch" does claim it is the location of the ranch Murphy owned in California.[174] Menifee was incorporated in 2008 and borders the community of Perris.
  11. ^ The actual award was presented by Governor Rick Perry to Murphy's family on 29 October 2013 at a ceremony in Farmersville, Texas.[189][190][191][192]



  • Smith, David A. The Price of Valor: The Life of Audie Murphy, America's Most Decorated Hero of World War II, Regnery History (2015) ISBN 978-1-62157-317-3

Further reading

See also

Murphy was a fan of country music, in particular Bob Wills and Chet Atkins, but was not a singer or musician himself.[196] Through his friend Guy Mitchell, a recording artist, he was introduced to songwriter Scott Turner sometime in the 1940s.[197] The three of them collaborated on numerous songs between 1962 and 1970, the most successful being "Shutters and Boards" and "When the Wind Blows in Chicago".[198]

David "Spec" McClure, his collaborator on the book To Hell and Back, discovered Murphy's talent for poetry during their work on the memoir when he found discarded verses in Murphy's Hollywood apartment. One of those poems, "The Crosses Grow on Anzio", appears in To Hell and Back attributed to a soldier named Kerrigan.[194] Only two others survived, "Alone and Far Removed" [194] and "Freedom Flies in Your Heart Like an Eagle". The latter was part of a speech Murphy had written at a 1968 dedication of the Alabama War Memorial in Montgomery, and later set to music by Scott Turner under the title "Dusty Old Helmet".[195]

Song writing

Swedish power metal band Sabaton wrote a song on their 2014 studio album, Heroes, also named "To Hell and Back", commemorating and recognizing Audie Murphy as one of the most decorated American veterans of World War II.[193]

Civilian honors were bestowed on Murphy during his lifetime and posthumously, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[188] In 2013, Murphy was honored by his home state with the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor.[ALM 11]

The headstones of Medal of Honor recipients buried at Arlington National Cemetery are normally decorated in gold leaf. Murphy previously requested that his stone remain plain and inconspicuous, like that of an ordinary soldier.[185] The headstone contains the incorrect birth year 1924, based upon the falsified materials among his military records.[186] In 1974, a large granite marker was erected just off the Appalachian Trail at at 3,100′ elevation, near the crash site.[187]

On 7 June 1971, Murphy was buried with full military honors at William Westmoreland, and many of the 3rd Infantry Division.[183] Murphy's grave site is in Section 46, headstone number 46-366-11, located across Memorial Drive from the Amphitheater. A special flagstone walkway was later constructed to accommodate the large number of people who visit to pay their respects. It is the cemetery's second most-visited grave site, after that of President John F. Kennedy.[184]

Monument at the site of the plane crash in which Audie Murphy was killed

On 28 May 1971, Murphy was killed when the private plane in which he was a passenger crashed into Brush Mountain, near Catawba, Virginia, 20 miles (32 km) west of Roanoke in conditions of rain, clouds, fog and zero visibility.[178] The pilot and four other passengers were also killed.[179] The aircraft was a twin-engine Aero Commander 680 flown by a pilot who had a private-pilot license and a reported 8,000 hours of flying time, but who held no instrument rating. The aircraft was recovered on 31 May.[180] After her husband died, Pamela Murphy moved into a small apartment and got a clerk position at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles, where she remained employed for 35 years.[181] In 1975, a court awarded Murphy's widow and two children $2.5 million in damages because of the accident.[182]

Death and commemorations

Murphy bred quarter horses at the Audie Murphy Ranch in what is now Menifee, California, and the Murphy Ranch in Pima County, Arizona.[ALM 10] His horses raced at the Del Mar Racetrack and he invested large sums of money in the hobby.[175] Murphy had a gambling habit that left his finances in a poor state. In 1968, he stated that he lost $260,000 in an Algerian oil deal and was dealing with the Internal Revenue Service over unpaid taxes.[176] In spite of his financial difficulties, Murphy refused to appear in commercials for alcohol and cigarettes, mindful of the influence he would have on the youth market.[177]

Murphy married actress Wanda Hendrix on 8 January 1949,[167] and their divorce became final on 19 April 1951.[168] Four days later he married former airline stewardess Pamela Archer.[169] He had two sons with Archer: Terry Michael Murphy, born in 1952,[170][171] and James Shannon "Skipper" Murphy, born in 1954.[172]

Murphy in 1961

Personal life

He first met director Budd Boetticher when Murphy requested to be his boxing partner at Terry Hunt's Athletic Club.[163] He subsequently appeared in the 1951 title role of Boetticher's first western The Cimarron Kid.[164] Boetticher wrote the script in 1969 for Murphy's last film A Time for Dying.[165] Two other projects that Murphy and Boetticher planned to collaborate on – A Horse for Mr Barnum and When There's Sumpthin' to Do – never came to fruition.[166]

Writer Clair Huffaker wrote the 1961 screenplays for Murphy's films Seven Ways from Sundown and Posse from Hell.[152] Willard W. Willingham and his wife Mary Willingham befriended Murphy in his early days in Hollywood and worked with him on a number of projects.[153][154][155] Willard was a producer on Murphy's 1961 television series Whispering Smith.[156] and co-wrote the screenplay for Battle at Bloody Beach that year.[157] He collaborated on Bullet for a Badman[158] in 1964 and Arizona Raiders in 1965.[159] The Willinghams as a team wrote the screenplay for Gunpoint[160] as well the script for Murphy's last starring lead in the western 40 Guns to Apache Pass in 1967.[161] Murphy made Trunk to Cairo in Israel in 1966.[162]

During the early 1960s, Murphy donated his time and otherwise lent his name and image for three episodes of The Big Picture television series produced by the United States Army. He received the 1960 Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for his cooperation in the episode Broken Bridge, which featured his visits to military installations in Germany, Italy, Turkey and the U.S. state of New Mexico to showcase the military's latest weaponry.[150][151]

Joseph L. Mankiewicz hired Murphy to play the titular role[ALM 9] in the 1958 film The Quiet American.[99] Murphy formed a partnership with Harry Joe Brown to make three films, starting with The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957). The partnership fell into disagreement over the remaining two projects, and Brown filed suit against Murphy.[146] Murphy featured in three westerns in 1959: he starred opposite Sandra Dee in The Wild and the Innocent,[147] collaborated as an uncredited co-producer with Walter Mirisch on the black and white Cast a Long Shadow, and performed as a hired killer in No Name on the Bullet, a film that was well received by critics.[148] Thelma Ritter was his costar in the 1960 Startime television episode "The Man".[149]

Although Murphy was initially reluctant to appear as himself in To Hell and Back, the 1955 adaptation of his book directed by Jesse Hibbs, he eventually agreed;[137] it became the biggest hit in the history of Universal Studios at the time.[138][139] To help publicize the release of the film, he made guest appearances on television shows such as What's My Line?,[ALM 7] Toast of the Town,[140] and Colgate Comedy Hour.[ALM 8] The Hibbs-Murphy team proved so successful in To Hell and Back[141] that the two worked together on five subsequent films. The partnership resulted in the 1956 western Walk the Proud Land, [142] and the non-westerns Joe Butterfly[143] and World in My Corner.[142] They worked together for the last time in the 1958 western Ride a Crooked Trail.[144]

The only film Murphy made in 1952 was Destry, a remake of Destry Rides Again, based on a character created by author Max Brand.[136]


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